Early childhood education centers are safe environments for younger children to learn and grow. But there could be potential hazards in certain centers that can cause health concerns for young children.
According to Child Care of America, roughly 11 million children under five receive childcare services, with roughly four million childcare providers nationwide. The average time children spend in early education centers is typically 36 hours a week.
About one in eight children can be in childcare centers that have not been thoroughly assessed for harmful chemicals like lead, radon, and mercury. These harmful chemicals could have been present from previous sites before becoming a childcare center, such as factories, dry cleaners, or old gas stations. Many states do not have clear processes to regulate safe locations for childcare centers.
These hazardous chemicals can have irreversible health effects on young children, including learning disabilities, kidney failure, and various forms of cancer. Children’s bodies are also more sensitive than adults since their bodies are still growing.
A few things to keep in mind for those trying to find a safe daycare for their child is to see what is nearby the center, like factories or dry cleaners that can release these chemicals into the water, air, or soil. It is also a good idea to ask, “what was on this site in the past?” since past uses may not be obvious at first glance. Some centers are developed on grounds without knowing what establishment it was in the past, which can be another reason some early childhood centers can have these hazardous chemicals.
Don’t let these facts make you decide that all childcare centers are unsafe for your child. If you are looking for a child care center, ask questions about the center to help you make a final decision.