Children’s Environmental Health

For many years, Vermont has prided itself on being in the forefront of environmental protection. Our pristine mountains and meadows seem a safe place to raise healthy children. But, unfortunately, Vermont has far to go in protecting its children from such dangers as mercury pollution and exposure to harmful pesticides.

Key Facts

Mercury in Fish

* Mercury exposure can harm the function and development of the central nervous system and is especially dangerous for unborn and young children. (21)
* The Vermont Department of Health currently has an advisory warning about the dangers of some fish caught in Vermont waters. (22)
* This advisory is not strong enough and does not reflect the level of danger. (23)

Pesticides in Schools

* More than 70% of schools are using pesticides without informing parents or attempting to use safer alternatives. (24)

Recommendations

* In creating standards for exposure to mercury and pesticides, assure that separate standards are created for children to reflect their unique needs, as different from adults and pregnant women.
* Ban from Vermont schools the most dangerous pesticides and those used for purely aesthetic reasons.
* Improve notification and record keeping standards for pesticide use in schools.
* Require implementation of safer pest management programs in schools.
* Reduce mercury hazards by banning mercury in novelty items (toys, shoes, etc.) as well as in thermometers and thermostats.
* Tighten the Vermont Department of Health’s advisory for fish consumption to be at least as strong as neighboring states.

Notes:
1. Office of Vermont Health Access, AHS, “Enrollment Report,” 2005.
2. Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2004 Kids Count Data Book: State Profiles of Child Well-Being, pp. 142, 154, 162.
3. Making Kids Count in Rural Northern New England, Northern New England Kids Count Collaborative, Vermont Children’s Forum, Maine Children’s Alliance, Children’s Alliance of New Hampshire, fall 2004, p. 31.
4. Ibid.
5. Steve Kappel, “Sustainable Health Care: What’s in the Toolbox?,” Joint Fiscal Office, September 15, 2004, p. 2.
6. Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, and Securities and Health Care Administration, “Presentation to the Special Committee on Health Care Program Financial Issues,” September 15, 2004, pp. 9, 10.
7. National Center for Health Statistics, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs, 2001; http://cshcndata.org/anonymous/Dataquery/DataQuery.aspx?control=2.
8. Charles Smith, Secretary, Executive Summary: 2005 AHS Strategic Plan for Re- Organization, February 2005, p. 7.
9. Source: www.healthyvermonters.info/hi/cshn/cshn.shtml#top.
10. Source: www.mentalhealth.org/databases/databases_exe.asp?D1=VT&Type=CMHS.
11. Source: www.healthyvermonters.info/hi/cshn/fitp/fitp.shtml.
12. Source: www.healthyvermonters.info/cph/hbkf/hbkf.shtml.
13. Source: www.state.vt.us/srs/childcare/index.htm.
14. Vermont Foster/Adoptive Family Association (VFAFA).
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid.
17. Vermont Adoption Consortium: A Statewide Network of Services, Supports and Connections for Adoptive Families, “Strengthening and Preserving Adoptive Families.”
18. VFAFA.
19. Vermont Adoption Consortium, id.
20. Vermont Adoption Consortium, id.
21. National Wildlife Federation, “How Mercury Affects Human Health”; http://www.nwf.org/cleantherain.
22. Source: http://www.state.vt.us/health/fish.htm
23. Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), “Fishing for Trouble: How Toxic Mercury Contaminates Fish in U.S. Waterways,” October, 2004; http://www.vpirg.org/campaigns/environmentalHealth/fishing_mercury.html.
24. VPIRG, “Reading Writing and Raid”; http://www.vpirg.org/campaigns/environmentalHealth/pesticide_report.pdf.
19. Vermont Adoption Consortium, id.
20. Vermont Adoption Consortium, id.

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