Environmental Health Guide for Parents and Child Care Providers

Children interact with our environment much differently than adults do, which is why children’s environmental health is so important. Things in our environment can also affect a pregnant woman's health and the health of her baby. This Environmental Health Guide is designed to:

  • Help parents become aware of potential environmental hazards that could harm their child’s health
  • Give child care providers guidance on environmental health regulations for their child care facilities
Drinking Water

Harmful contaminants may be found in both public and private drinking water supplies that can cause significant health risks to babies and children. Testing your drinking water is important to make sure it is free of these contaminants.

Child care licensure regulations now include public and private drinking water testing requirements. For more information about these regulations, contact the Vermont Department for Children and Families at 800-649-2642.

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Lead Hazards in the Home and Child Care Facility

Lead is a highly toxic metal that can be found in paint and drinking water and may cause serious and permanent health problems. Children and pregnant women are at special risk. Lead poisoning can be prevented.

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Vermont Lead Law for Child Care Facilities Built Before 1978  Essential Maintenance Practices
The Health Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have specific lead-based paint-related requirements for all child care facilities built before 1978. In Vermont, Essential Maintenance Practices (EMPs) are required for all pre-1978 child care facilities. EMPs are relatively inexpensive maintenance activities that property owners or property managers must do to reduce lead-based paint hazards and inspect the property for deteriorated (chipping and peeling) lead-based paint. See our EMP guide for child care facilities.

Chemicals and Other Air Pollutants in the Home

Chemicals and other air pollutants can enter the home from the natural environment, hobbies, household cleaning and personal care products, and even from bacteria, pet dander, and dust mites or roaches. 

Breathing in air pollutants in the home can lead to allergic and asthmatic reactions, infections, and other health problems that involve the lungs, nose and throat. Babies and young children may be especially sensitive, in part because their organs and immune systems are not fully developed.

Learn more about creating a healthy indoor air environment in your home or child care facility:

School Health

Children spend a significant amount of time at school, which is why it’s important to maintain a healthy school environment, both inside and outside the school. Vermont offers programs and resources to help keep our schools safe and healthy.

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Children’s Toys and Products

Children’s productssuch as toys, furniture, cosmetics, teethers, and feeding bottles—may contain many chemicals. Parents, caregivers, and child care providers are encouraged to learn more about the chemicals that are in these products.

The State of Vermont requires manufacturers to report information about their use of chemicals in children’s products designated by the State as Chemicals of High Concern to Children.

Learn more about the Chemical Disclosure Program for Children’s Products.

Recreational Water Safety

Being aware of water conditions and adopting safe practices with your children while in and around recreational waters is very important. Vermont’s lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers may contain bacteria that can make you sick.

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are a common and natural part of the microscopic plants (plankton) in Lake Champlain and other Vermont waters. Some types of cyanobacteria can release natural toxins or poisons (called cyanotoxins) into the water, especially when they die and break down. Swimming or wading in water with cyanobacteria may cause minor skin rashes, sore throats, diarrhea, stomach problems, or more serious health problems. Children are at increased risk of illness since they are more likely to swallow water when swimming and playing than adults.

Learn more about recreational water safety and cyanobacteria in Vermont.

Check if cyanobacteria blooms were reported at Vermont’s managed beach areas.


Asbestos is a fiber that has been used in building materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. If these materials are disturbed or damaged in any waysuch as when renovating or demolishing a building—asbestos fibers can be released into the air and breathed in. Exposure to asbestos fibers increases the risk of developing health effects—such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

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Child care providers seeking licensure are required to hire a Vermont-certified Asbestos Inspector Contractor to conduct a site inspection for asbestos-containing materials (ACM). In addition, all ACMs must be removed and disposed of prior to the renovation or demolition of a child care facility . For more information about asbestos-related renovation and demolition requirements, please see our guide to asbestos for property owners.

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