Our Study and the Children’s Environmental Health Movement
Each October, we celebrate Children’s Environmental Health Month. As a member of the Children’s Environmental Health Network, we strive to increase awareness and understanding of children’s environmental health among key audiences. Through our research and outreach work, we are committed to creating intervention and prevention methods among communities, health care professionals, and policymakers. Today’s children face an epidemic of illnesses and chronic diseases - linked to environmental exposures, and our changing climate. There is an urgent need to put children and their families into the forefront of our nation's public health and environmental health-related actions.
As a research center in the Children’s Environmental Health Network, we strive to positively impact local environmental policy in our region with the findings of our studies. As part of this network we strive to:
Increase awareness and understanding of children’s environmental health among key audiences
Mobilize action on children’s environmental health issues
Establish/expand the community and network of partners working on children’s environmental health issues
Through our continued research on the health outcomes associated with early childhood exposure to arsenic, we have been successful in advocating for and informing policies locally and nationwide. In 2019, our research on arsenic exposure through drinking water and the health effects it has on children informed the policy that was created in NH to limit the amount of arsenic in municipal drinking water systems. Our research on the presence of arsenic in rice-based baby food was also fundamental to the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021. The bill, which was proposed to congress will limit the amounts of heavy metals in baby food.
We have recently expanded our outreach efforts to inform healthcare providers of the prevalence of naturally occurring in our region’s drinking water. While it’s been a great success to see limitations on arsenic enforced in public drinking water, a huge portion of the population in rural NH and VT get their drinking water from private wells, which are not regularly tested for arsenic.
In a recent trial study, we encourage local children’s healthcare providers to ask patients where they receive their water source. Eleven healthcare clinics in mostly rural areas of New Hampshire and Vermont were asked to give out prepaid water sampling kits, covering several possible contaminants including arsenic. The study test different approaches to distributing the kits and found the most parents completed them when doctors handed them out in person and followed up with reminder calls, solidifying the importance of disseminating pertinent research findings to providers and the greater community.