10 Environmental Health Questions to Ask When Choosing Childcare
There are seemingly endless concerns once you have a child, including minimizing exposure to harmful chemicals—from BPA in baby bottles to toxic turf your child might play on to the amount of fluoride ingested.
If you use childcare outside of your home, that’s another major thing to think about in your quest to keep your child safe and healthy. What food will your child eat there? What will the air quality be like? And more.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Washington Toxics Coalition offers 10 questions to ask when putting environmental health at the top of your checklist when picking the best childcare option.
1. How are pests managed, both inside and outside? Prioritize providers who answer this question by emphasizing prevention and discussing an integrated pest management approach. If a pesticide must be used as a last resort, check that your daycare follows state regulations to notify parents 48 hours in advance.
2. Is the provider informed about lead issues? Choose facilities where the tap water has been tested for lead and where only cold water is used for cooking and making formula. If the building was built before 1978, ask if the paint has been tested for lead. Look out for flaking or chipping paint around windows and doors.
3. Are measures taken to maintain good indoor air quality (IAQ)? Look for adequate ventilation, with indoor air exchanged regularly for outdoor air. Avoid places that mask IAQ issues with air fresheners. Give preference to centers that choose solid wood or hard plastic furnishings rather than PVC/vinyl or upholstered furnishings. Likewise, select providers who repair any water damage promptly to prevent mold growth and who use low VOC products when painting or repairs are needed.
4. Are cots used for nap times? Prioritize centers that use cots and blankets instead of mats, as cots do not contain fire retardants. Fire retardants in mats are released into the air and dust children breathe and touch.
5. How is the facility cleaned? Which cleaning products are used? Give preference to providers who clean for health—damp mopping rather than sweeping, using a HEPA vacuum on area rugs and staying on top of dust, a health hazard. Safer are third-party certified cleaning products without fragrance such as those endorsed by Design for the Environment. Facilities that do not use wall to wall carpeting are preferable.
6. When and how are hands washed? Choose providers who steer clear of antibacterial soaps and products with triclosan. Additionally, look for the use of fragrance-free soap products.
7. What is the policy on disinfecting? You want to find daycare that follows best practices—disinfectants used only for their intended purpose and according to label instructions.
8. Are plastics used responsibly? You want to observe that cups and bottles are BPA-free, that toys and furniture are not made of PVC/vinyl and that food is not heated in plastic containers.
9. Are appropriate art supplies used? You want to see that only art supplies intended for children are used and that household products are not repurposed as art materials. Check out the top 10 tips for choosing art materials.
10. If food is provided, how is it chosen? Prioritize providers who choose organic or pesticide-free food, especially fruits and vegetables on the dirty dozen list.
What questions did you ask when choosing a childcare facility?
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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