New Jersey Department of Health,
Environmental and Occupational Health Surveillance Program
Toolkit for Keeping Your Child Care Center Healthy
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJ DOH) provides information on a variety of indoor environmental issues. The agency’s Environmental and Occupational Health Surveillance Program has developed educational materials for reducing exposure to hazardous chemicals in child care centers, with a focus on cleaning products, pesticides, and air fresheners.
Why is this Project Important?
Child care staff and children in care can be exposed to hazardous chemicals found in products used for routine cleaning and maintenance of child care facilities. Children are at heightened risk of harmful health effects – in part because they are more likely to increase exposure by spending time on the floor and putting objects into their mouths, and in part because their small, still-developing bodies are particularly vulnerable to the effects of chemicals. The chemicals contained in some of these products may lead to health effects including asthma and respiratory symptoms, headaches, rashes, birth defects, cancer, and neurological/behavioral problems.
What Materials Have Been Developed Under the Project?
As part of the Toolkit for Keeping Your Child Care Center Healthy, NJ DOH has produced six informational handouts describing best practices for using various products safely and effectively, as well as guidelines for choosing less harmful options and alternatives. Three handouts focus on green cleaning, two on pest control, and one on air fresheners. The green cleaning handouts explain the differences among cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfectants; the dangers of bleach; and the benefits of microfiber cloths and mops. Pest control materials include a one-page fact sheet on the hazards of pesticides, as well as a 32-page manual on Integrated Pest Management in child care centers. The toolkit also offers a one-page information sheet on avoiding the harms of air fresheners.
How Can You Learn More?
Visit the NJ DOH Environmental and Indoor Health web pages.
Call or email the state’s Occupational Health Surveillance Program.