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Choose Safe Places for Early Childhood Care and Education

Did you know that children are usually more sensitive than adults to toxic chemicals? Toxic chemicals like lead, air pollution, and industrial solvents can all have lifelong impacts on a young child. There are three ways that children typically come into contact with dangerous chemicals:

  1. Breathing the chemical in the air.
  2. Eating or drinking the chemical.
  3. Getting the chemical on the skin or in the eyes.

Since many young children spend time in childcare, it’s important that childcare facilities consider whether toxic chemicals are present on their property. The Arkansas Department of Health’s Choose Safe Places program helps provide technical assistance to daycare providers once their properties have been assessed for toxic chemicals.


Where can toxic chemicals come from?

Toxic chemicals can end up in a childcare facility in several different ways.

  1. Previous uses of the property
    • ​​If the property was used before by a factory, dry cleaner, warehouse, or other industry, there might be toxic chemicals left behind. Even cigarette smoking can leave behind a layer of chemicals in the building.
  2. Nearby businesses, highways, and railroads
    • ​​In an accident, toxic chemicals can spill from trucks or railcars. Nearby businesses, especially those in the same building, could be using chemicals at a level that is okay for adults but dangerous for children.
  3. Construction materials
    • ​​Before 1978, building materials that had lead and asbestos were widely sold in the United States. These harmful chemicals can still remain in older buildings.
  4. Naturally occurring sources
    • ​​Some chemicals, like arsenic and radon, are naturally occurring in certain deposits underground.


What can I do to protect young children in child care?

If you’re concerned about potential toxic chemical exposure in a child care facility, contact us for expert help. We can help child care facilities, both new and existing, review their properties for the potential presence of toxic chemicals. We provide expertise and knowledge, though we cannot test samples or do remediation. Tell us more about your concerns by contacting us using the online reporting form


Other Resources

Public Health Accrediation Board
Arkansas Department of Health
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4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867