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Toxic Chemical Exposure in Children

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

A recent article in the Washington Post highlighted the importance of protecting children from accidental poisonings. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, the number of hospital treatments for medicine poisonings for children under the age of six has decreased from 76,000 to 52,000 from 2010 to 2017. While the number has decreased by 24,000 cases per year, that number is still high, and more work needs to be done to prevent children from gaining exposure to toxic products in the first place.

Children's Exposure to Harmful Toxic Chemicals

While a lot of attention in the news has been given to children accidentally taking their parent’s medicines, we must also pay attention to exposure to toxic chemicals such as cleaning products. Back in December of 2017, a child care provider accidentally served preschoolers Pine-Sol instead of apple juice. According to the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN), children can experience irreversible side effects that last a lifetime as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals. CEHN also notes that children are even more vulnerable than others to the harmful health impacts of chemicals due to their developing physiology and the way they interact with their environments.

We recognize that accidents happen—our goal is to prepare childcare providers to ensure that the likelihood of such accidents is minimized. We recommend that childcare providers:

  • Check children’s backpack to ensure that nothing potentially harmful has been brought to childcare.

  • Educate parents on the importance of medicine/chemical safety in the home.

  • Label all foods, drinks, and cleaning supplies.

  • Keep cleaning products and any medicines out of reach of children and in a locked space.

  • If an accident does happen—know what to do! Keep a list of emergency telephone numbers in each room such as National Poison Control 1-800-222-1222, as well as the local police/ambulance service.

If you have questions about what your childcare organization can do to be more prepared and protect children from dangerous situations, please contact us today. Or, send us an email:


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