Get Eco-Healthy Child Care®  endorsed!

As an Eco-Healthy Child Care® (EHCC) endorsed provider you will create and maintain a child care facility that is healthy and safe by reducing children’s exposure to environmental hazards like lead in paint and water, unsafe plastics, and toxic chemicals found in cleaning supplies. EHCC endorsement lasts for two years. 

The endorsement process includes:

E-Learning Course (click to expand):

One staff member from the child care facility must successfully complete the Protecting Children’s Environmental Health E-Course.The course is offered in English and Spanish on the ProSolutions platform and has been approved for adult learning clock hours in 48 states, including Washington D.C, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Endorsement fees (click to expand):

Endorsement costs $25 or $50 (depending on the facility size). A $10 discount is offered for providers who renew before their current endorsement expires.

Eco-Healthy Child Care® Certification Mark Use Agreement Form (click to expand):

Click here for the Certification Mark Use Agreement Form. In an increasingly competitive market, using an established endorsement program like Eco-Healthy Child Care® and its logo clearly communicates high-quality care to parents, builds trust with current and potential families, and can make your business stand out from the crowd. Email your completed form to ehcc@cehn.org to receive the EHCC logo, along with a personalized social media and marketing toolkit. Completing this agreement form allows you to market your business effectively and efficiently by using the EHCC logo on your printed materials, website, and social media channels

Eco-Healthy Child Care® endorsement form/application (click to expand):

The application is based on the EHCC best practices checklist. These science-based, eco-healthy best practices cover 11 content categories for how children may be unnecessarily exposed to environmental health hazards. Learn more about the checklist and the science behind each item below.

Application submission(click to expand):

We recommend completing the application ONLINE. If you would prefer to mail your application, please submit endorsement forms via mail, by downloading a checklist and mailing the completed forms and payment to: CEHN/EHCC, 110 Maryland Avenue NE, Suite 404, Washington, D.C. 20002.

For questions contact ehcc@cehn.org or 202-543-4033 x12.

Learn more about the Eco-Healthy Child Care® best practices checklist:

To become Eco-Healthy Child Care® endorsed, facilities (center and family child care) must follow 30 of the following 35 simple and free or low-cost environmentally healthy best practices (including the five standards marked "REQUIRED").

All EHCC checklist items comply with Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards. These science-based, eco-healthy best practices cover 11 content categories for how children may be unnecessarily exposed to environmental health hazards. Learn about the science behind each standard by clicking on "Why?" beneath each one.

Pesticides and pest prevention (click to expand):

  • We use pest prevention practices like eliminating food and water sources and blocking off pest entryways.
  • We notify families and staff 48 hours in advance of any pesticide application. A licensed professional applies the least toxic pesticide product. At a minimum,
    there is a 12-hour window between the application of pesticides and the
    time children are in the area (see manufacturer’s instructions for further information).
    REQUIRED.
  • We wash all produce under running water and purchase produce labeled USDA organic, whenever possible.


Why?

Long-term exposure to pesticides may lead to asthma, cancer, reproductive harm, kidney/liver damage, nerve tissue damage and neurobehavioral problems. Even while in the womb, children are not protected from the impacts of toxic pesticides. Prenatal exposures can increase the likelihood of fetal death, the development of birth defects, as well as neurodevelopment and neurobehavioral issues. Acute poisoning by pesticides can cause breathing difficulty, chest tightness, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, blurred vision, sweating, headaches, dizziness, and loss of concentration. Even low levels of some pesticide exposure are a threat to young developing bodies. Children are at greater risk for health complications due to pesticide exposure because of their small size and developing nervous system.

Learn more from the Pesticides Factsheet: English Spanish


Air Quality (click to expand):

  • We use fans that vent to the outside in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry area. We fix water leaks and keep relative humidity below 60% (use a hygrometer to monitor indoor humidity).
  • We maintain adequate ventilation, especially during cooking, cleaning, and art activities. We ventilate by using screened windows and doors or a mechanical ventilation system.
  • We post signs for “no-idling” on our entrance doors or near where parking/drop-off occurs to request that families, staff, and delivery personnel refrain from idling their car outside the facility.
  • We do not use scented or unscented candles, air fresheners, or other products with fragrances in both staff and child-occupied spaces (bathrooms, break rooms, and play and sleeping areas).
  • We prohibit smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes or “vaping,” at all times on the premises and in facility-affiliated vehicles used to transport children. REQUIRED


Why?

Air quality significantly impacts children’s health. The health impacts associated with poor indoor and outdoor air include: decreased lung size and function, acute respiratory illnesses (such as: asthma and bronchitis), emphysema, and even some types of cancer. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution because their lungs are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults.

Air pollution levels are often 2-5 times greater than outdoor levels as a result of indoor contaminants, and inadequate air filtration and ventilation. Common indoor air contaminants are tobacco smoke (including vaping); mold and mildew; dust mites and pet dander; and fragrance chemicals. Poor indoor air quality can harm academic performance and learning and increase child and staff absenteeism.

Outdoor air pollution comes from a variety of sources, including: cars, buses, trucks, ships, trains, wildfires, industry, and activities such as smoking or campfires. Traffic pollutants include possible harmful chemicals in gasoline and diesel exhaust and fine particulate matter. Children have higher exposures to air pollution because they spend, on average, more time outdoors than adults.

Learn more from the Air Quality Factsheet: English  |  Spanish


Household Chemicals (click to expand):

  • We use fragrance-free, 3rd party certified cleaning products (Green Seal, UL
    ECOLOGO®, EPA’s Safer Choice). We use fragrance-free laundry products in our facility.
  • We use fragrance-free, EPA-registered sanitizers and disinfectants only
    when required, and in accordance with all label instructions. Safer disinfectants can be found at EPA’s Design for the Environment Safer Disinfectants Project. We always clean first with a 3rd party certified cleaner before sanitizing and disinfecting.
  • We use fragrance-free chlorine bleach only when EPA-registered safer disinfectants are not available. We always follow the product label instructions to assure proper use.
  • We use cleaning products with pump, pour or spray bottles. We avoid aerosol cans.
  • We use facility paints that are alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) free, have very low VOC content (<10g/L), and low VOC emissions, AND avoid paints marketed as antimicrobial. We do not paint when children are present and
    prevent children from using freshly painted rooms for 2 to 3 days.

Why?

Household chemicals can be toxic to our health and to the environment. A wide variety of toxic chemicals are routinely used as ingredients within cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting products. These chemicals can make indoor air unhealthy to breathe, irritate the skin and eyes, harm the respiratory tract and endocrine system, and pollute the natural environment. Children are especially vulnerable to toxic chemicals because their bodies and organs are still developing. Children are exposed to toxic household chemicals through inhalation, skin and eye contact, and ingestion.

Off-gassing from paint is a large contributor to poor indoor air quality. Many paints are made of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are organic compounds, such as benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene, that readily evaporate into the air and can be inhaled. VOCs are associated with a variety of adverse health effects including cancer.

Aerosol sprays - such as deodorants, cooking sprays, hair sprays, carpet cleaners, furniture polish, and air fresheners - spew invisible droplets of chemicals into the air.

Learn more from the Household Chemicals Factsheet: English  |  Spanish

Lead (click to expand):

  • We use only cold water for drinking and cooking, especially when making baby formula.
  • We flush our water at the tap at first use in the morning and/or after more than a few hours of non-use. Contact your local water utility to gather more information on suggested flushing times.
  • We test our water for lead and if needed, use water filtration devices that have been certified to remove lead at the point of use. REQUIRED
  • We maintain our child care facility to minimize lead hazards like chipping, cracking, or peeling paint. REQUIRED
  • We renovate safely. We use contractors certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for lead safe-work practices, when painting, renovating, or remodeling a child care facility built before 1978. REQUIRED
  • We renovate safely. We use contractors certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for lead safe-work practices, when painting, renovating, or remodeling a child care facility built before 1978.
  • We use a commercial walk-off mat at the entrance of our child care
    facility or remove shoes when entering the facility.
  • We cover any bare soil in or around our child care facility with mulch or ground cover.

Why?

There is no safe level of lead exposure. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in a person’s body. . Exposure to lead can contribute to behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia (when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells) in children. Adult exposure can lead to reproductive issues, kidney problems, cardiovascular disease and nerve disorders.

Young children are at a greater risk of lead poisoning because of their natural and developmentally appropriate behaviors-- such as putting their hands and other objects in their mouths. A child’s body reacts differently to lead, as compared to an adult’s body. Lead substitutes for calcium; young bodies need calcium, so children can absorb 50% of the lead they ingest, while adults only absorb about 10%. Finally, because children’s brains and nervous systems are still developing, they are more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of lead.

Lead can be found inside a home in paint, water, consumer products (e.g. toys and costume jewelry) and dust. It can also be found in contaminated outside soil.

Learn more from the Lead Factsheet: English  |  Spanish

Get the free Lead Safe Toolkit for Child Care

Mercury (click to expand):

  • We recognize potential mercury hazards such as compact fluorescent bulbs, batteries, and thermometers. We dispose of them properly at a hazardous waste facility and replace them with mercury-free alternatives such as LED lights. Visit www.earth911.com to find disposal locations.

Why?

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is readily absorbed into our bodies. There is no safe level of mercury exposure. The effects of high-level mercury exposure include blindness, seizures, and brain damage. Lower level chronic exposure has been associated with developmental delays and cognitive defects. Infants and young children are most vulnerable to mercury because their brains are still developing.

Learn more from the Mercury Factsheet: English  |  Spanish

Furniture and Carpets (click to expand):

  • We ensure furniture, carpet padding, nap mats, crib mattresses, and other foam
    items are in good condition. Ripped foam items are disposed of. Before buying upholstered furniture, we verify that flame retardants have not been added. Labels on furniture made after January 1, 2015, should indicate whether flame retardants are present.
  • When purchasing furniture or renovating, we choose solid wood (new or used)
    products and avoid pressed or composite wood items. If we must use products with composite wood we choose those with No Added Formaldehyde (NAF) or Ultra-Low- Emitting Formaldehyde (ULEF) designations.
  • We do not have permanently installed wall-to-wall carpeting where children are
    present. When renovating we choose safer flooring options such as solid
    wood or linoleum and avoid wall-to-wall carpets, laminate, and vinyl flooring.
  • We choose area rugs that are free of stain repellents and harmful fluorinated
    chemicals. We vacuum area rugs daily with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter vacuum cleaner and clean them at least twice a year (or as needed) using fragrance-free, 3rd party certified cleaners. We keep dust levels down by damp mopping and dusting hard floors and surfaces regularly.

Why?

Carpets, and the glues that hold carpet in place, release chemicals such as VOCs. Children, especially younger children, spend most of their time near or on the ground and thus breathe in these chemicals, as well as the dirt, dust and mildew that accumulate in the carpet. Exposure to these substances can lead to lung complications and can act as a trigger for asthma attacks.

Additionally, household furnishings can contain toxic materials such as formaldehyde and flame retardants. Formaldehyde can be irritating to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Off-gassing (the release of chemicals into the air) can cause headaches; nausea; burning of the eyes, nose, and throat; skin rashes; coughing; and chest tightness. Exposure to high levels of formaldehyde for an extended period of time (10-20 yrs) may cause cancer. Formaldehyde is a suspected neurological, reproductive, and liver toxin.

High levels of exposure to some common flame retardants, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), can be toxic to the liver and thyroid. Infants and toddlers who are highly exposed to PBDEs may suffer damage to their developing nervous systems.

Learn more from the Furniture and Carpets Factsheet: English  |  Spanish

Art Supplies (click to expand):

  • We use only non-toxic, fragrance-free art supplies approved by the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI). Look for ACMI nontoxic seal ‘AP’ at www.acmiart.org.

Why?

Art and craft supplies can contain toxic ingredients that, when used or stored in a play area, can cause immediate and/or long-term health effects. Lead, cadmium, asbestos and organic solvents are sometimes used to enhance pigmentation, preserve art products, and to improve application. These toxic ingredients can trigger asthma, allergies, headaches and nausea, especially if used in a poorly ventilated area.

Children are uniquely vulnerable; it is important to purchase and use supplies that are certified as non-toxic. In addition, young children are more likely to have contact with products on their skin, hair, and in their mouths and eyes; as such, children in grade six and lower should only use non-toxic art and craft materials.

Learn more from the Art Supplies Factsheet: English  |  Spanish

Plastics (click to expand):

  • We look for products (e.g. toys, food containers, dinnerware) labeled PVC-free, phthalate-free, and BPA-free. We avoid soft vinyl plastic, hard clear plastic, and styrofoam products.
  • We never heat or microwave food or drink in any plastic containers or plastic wrap.
  • We use glass baby bottles with a silicone sleeve whenever possible. If glass is not an option, then milky, opaque plastic bottles and sippy cups labeled “BPA free” are used.

Why?

Certain plastics contain chemicals that are harmful to human health even at low levels of exposure. Children are at greater risk to these chemicals because their bodies are still developing and they often insert plastic objects into their mouths--increasing exposure. Also, a small toxic dose for an adult may be a big dose with big effects for a child.

Soft, flexible plastics are often made with chemicals called phthalates, and hard clear plastics are often made with a chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA). These ingredients can interfere with hormones (such as estrogen and testosterone) and may disrupt a child’s normal development and growth, especially if the child is exposed to these chemicals over long periods of time.

BPA and phthalates have been linked to cancer, diabetes, obesity, infertility and behavioral problems. Polystyrene plastic products, including disposable dining-ware, foam and packaging products, can expose children to styrene, a known neurotoxicant and suspected carcinogen.

Learn more from the Plastics Factsheet: English  |  Spanish

Playground Surfaces (click to expand):

  • We do not have playground equipment made of CCA-treated wood (pre-2004) — or — if we do, we apply 2 coats of waterproof stain or sealant at least once a year. We keep children from using the freshly stained/sealed equipment for 2-3 days.
  • We use safer materials in our play areas including organically managed natural grass, mulch, or engineered wood fiber. We do not have artificial turf or crumb rubber (recycled rubber) in our play areas.

Why?

The wood in pre-2004 playground sets, picnic tables, benches, mulch, and decks can contain potentially hazardous levels of arsenic due to the use of Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) as a wood preservative and insecticide. The EPA-registered CCA solution which is used to treat wood can contain up to 30% arsenic. Due to health concerns, CCA was phased out for residential uses in 2004.  Children who regularly spend time on treated structures built prior to 2004 could potentially be exposed to arsenic (e.g., by putting their hands in their mouths or eating directly after playing on treated structures).

The health effects related to long-term, repeated arsenic exposure include irritation of the stomach and intestines, birth or developmental effects, skin cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, infertility, and miscarriages.

Learn more from the Arsenic Factsheet (English)

Radon (click to expand):

  • We have tested our facility for radon.
  • If elevated levels of radon are found, we take action to mitigate the hazards. We have visited www.epa.gov/radon for resources, and have researched state requirements and guidelines to learn more.

Why?

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and the leading environmental cause of lung cancer in America, claiming approximately 21,000 lives per year. Children are more vulnerable to the effects of radon because they have smaller lungs and higher breathing rates (take in more air) than adults, and because they spend up to 70% more time indoors than adults on average.

Radon is an invisible radioactive gas you can’t taste or smell, produced by the natural breakdown of uranium in rock, soil, and water. Radon gets into a building by moving up through the ground and then through cracks and holes in the foundation. Buildings can trap radon, which can lead to harmful concentrations indoors. According to a nationwide EPA survey, 1 in 5 schools has at least one schoolroom with radon that exceeds safe levels.

Learn more from the Radon Factsheet: English Spanish

Safe Siting (click to expand):

  • We regularly consider the environment around the location of our child care facility and whether our building is in close proximity to environmental hazards
    which may impact drinking water or indoor and outdoor air quality. If hazards such as nearby industries (nail salons, gas stations, dry cleaners, etc.) or natural hazards such as smoke from wildfires are present we contact
    our local or state public health department for advice on avoiding health risks.

Why?

Safe siting involves choosing safe locations for child care facilities so that children and child care staff can avoid exposures from environmental hazards like lead in drinking water or poor indoor or outdoor air quality.

Even if current state child care licensing regulations are being met, it is still possible that child care facilities are located in areas or buildings where exposure to toxic chemicals is taking place. This can put children-- who are particularly vulnerable to chemical exposures because of their developing bodies and behaviors--and child care staff at risk of health problems including cancer, asthma, and learning disabilities.

Learn more from the Safe Siting Factsheet (English)