Minnesota Children's Environmental Health Profile
Did you know 48% of Minnesota's children live in counties that do not monitor ozone pollution levels? Or that while the national average temperature increase since 1970 is 2.8 degrees F, Minnesota's temperature increase is 3.3 degrees F? There are 1.3 million children in Minnesota, and approximately 11% of them live in poverty. Poverty is an important social determinant of health; poverty hurts children and their families. Children of color and young children are disproportionately poor and experience many issues that lead to adverse health outcomes. All children deserve a safe and healthy environment to grow and develop.
This profile highlights key Minnesota children's environmental health indicators, federal support received by the state for environmental health, health equity, and climate and health programs, and a spotlight feature on a children's environmental health-related topical issue.
Continue reading to learn more about environmental hazards, children's exposures, and children's health outcomes in Minnesota, or click the blue button to download the profile as a PDF.
Key Children's Environmental Health Indicators for Minnesota
Minnesota Spotlight: Minnesota Department of Health Drinking Water Guidance
Minnesota is one of only a few states that develops its own drinking water guidance in addition to existing EPA standards. State law specifies that the guidance must adequately protect the health of infants and children. To this end, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has developed drinking water guidance that considers developmental “windows of sensitivity” to toxicants as well as periods of high exposure.
The state is particularly aggressive in its monitoring of per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of persistent chemicals that pose significant health risks. MDH toxicologists uniquely consider placental transfer and transfer through formula-feeding and breastmilk in their risk assessment of PFAS in water sources.
MDH has a long-term goal of sampling all community water systems in the state for PFAS. Under this goal, MDH aims to cover 90% of CWS customers under its PFAS monitoring program by 2025. They will also sample noncommunity water systems in areas that are most vulnerable to PFAS contamination to address the highest potential public health risks.
Federal Support to Minnesota within the past 5 years (click to expand):
Children's Environmental Health Indicators Selection Criteria (click to expand):
Children's environmental health indicators (CEHIs) are measures that can be used to assess environmental hazards, exposures, and their resulting health outcomes in children. The below criteria are used when determining which indicators to utilize:
- Relevance: Each headline indicator should be a clear, understandable indicator of children’s environmental health, with broad relevance for a range of audiences at the state level – with relevance to the national level.
- Representativeness: The indicators as a package should provide a representative picture of children’s health and relation to the environment.
- Traceability: Each indicator should be calculated using an agreed-upon (and published) method and accessible and verifiable data.
- Timeliness: Each indicator should be calculated regularly (at least biennially), with a short lag between the end of the period and publication of the data.
- Data adequacy: The available data needed for the indicator must be sufficiently robust, reliable and valid.
- Universality: Indicators must be comparable across all or very nearly all 50 U.S. states.
Indicator Notes and References (click to expand):
All children deserve and need a safe and healthy environment to grow and develop. They need clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, nutritious food to eat, and healthy places in which to live, learn, and play. Early exposure to harmful agents can lead to acute and chronic adverse outcomes. Infants and children are especially vulnerable to environmental exposures because they breathe, eat and drink more, in proportion to their body size, than do adults, and because their bodies and brains are still developing.
A blueprint for Protecting Children's Environmental Health Network set out to identify a set of CEHIs that can be used to provide an understanding of children's environmental health at the state level. Through this process, CEHN found that robust, valid, and regularly updated state level data--that are comparable across most states--were not readily accessible. States need adequate funding and capacity to collect and make accessible reliable CEHI data in order to set goals and track progress towards improving children's health.
Children are our future - society has a moral obligation to protect them. Exposure to environmental hazards can and must be prevented. Prevention requires strong environmental regulations, fully funded and supportive public and environmental health programs and a robust workforce.