Tornadoes, fires and floods, oh my! Who knows what’s going on with this crazy weather we’re having? Some may point to climate change, but here at Healthy Child Healthy World we stay away from political lightening rods, thank you very much. (Yes, that pun was intended.)
For us, it’s all about our kids’ health. And this season’s extreme weather—no matter what the cause—can have some serious consequences.
This week, thousands of Arizona residents who had evacuated because of the massive Wallow fire returned to their homes, but public health officials warned of continuing hazardous air quality, the Los Angeles Times reported. As late as Monday, tiny particles of charred wood—about 1/25th the width of human hair—still floated in the air. When inhaled, these particles can become lodged deep inside the lungs, proving dangerous especially for young children.
The New York Times reported earlier this month that the Mississippi River floods, which recently overwhelmed Midwest and Southern states with record levels of surging waters, are leaving behind significant amounts of farm chemicals and waste that could result in the largest dead zone ever in the Gulf of Mexico.
Finally, the Associated Press reported that environmental hazards like groundwater-contaminating liquid fuels and chemicals may be an issue to the residents of Joplin, MO, who experienced a devastating tornado in May.
What can you do?
If you live in one of these latter two affected areas, the US Environmental Protection Agency recommends pregnant women and families with small children take steps to avoid exposure to lead during clean up activities like sanding and demolition, which can create contaminated dust, the most common source of lead exposure for kids. Lead-based paint was used in homes until it was banned in 1978; exposure can lead to learning disabilities and developmental delays, among other problems.
Contact your local public health department to help identify specific environmental risks in your area and how to prevent them.
Healthy Child’s 5 Easy Steps also includes information about filtering indoor air, reducing pesticide exposure and chemical-free cleaning that may be helpful.
Our hearts go out to all those affected by this truly strange spring.
Has your home been impacted by the extreme weather this season?
By Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff Executive Director/CEO Healthy Child Healthy World and Courtesy of Healthy Child Healthy World: a 501(c)(3) nonprofit inspiring parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals.