Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Environmental Health in Early Childhood Systems Building
Opportunities for States

Authors: Andrea Bachrach, Louisa Higgins, and Shannon Stagman
Publication Date: December 2010

This is an excerpt from the full report.


Exposure to environmental hazards has negative outcomes for healthy child development. Household and community pollutants affect people of all ages, but for a number of important reasons young children face a significantly higher risk of developing disease and experiencing cognitive and psychomotor developmental delays. Fortunately, many common forms of exposure are preventable, and there are abundant opportunities for statelevel stakeholders to initiate and support effective interventions.

This brief identifies some of the substances that threaten young children inside and nearby the home or early care and learning setting. It describes the importance of early intervention for disease prevention, and provides examples of strategic approaches to regional policy and program reform. Finally, it explores specific actions states can take to successfully address environmental health issues affecting children.

Statewide environmental health initiatives can play an important role in broader early childhood systems-building efforts. Coordinating cross-agency interventions requires some preparation to learn the basics of the issue, and there are many resources available to get started on a path to prevent and remediate environmental threats to the health of young children.