Health Issues and Information

Parents, there are many things in your kids environment that can pose a health problem. Look over these topics and click on their headlines to visit individual pages to see what you can do to safeguard your child's health. 


  • Asthma is one of our nation's most common chronic health conditions and is on the rise. It can start in childhood, resolve, recur or develop in adulthood. 
  • Many people have both asthma and allergies. Unlike an allergy, asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lung. Since your nose connects to your lung, the inflammatory process can occur along the entire airway. Once the airway begins to swell, breathing becomes difficult. 
  • Asthmatics are often short of breath and have a feeling of tightness in the chest. All asthmatics should be under a doctor's care to manage their disease, to keep it under control and to keep them healthy. The best way to prevent an allergy is to recognize that you have one. Often people confuse an allergy with a cold or flu. 
  • Remember colds are short-lived and passed from person to person, whereas allergies are immune system reactions to normally harmless substances. Allergies are best prevented by avoiding exposure to allergens in the first place.

Heavy Metals

The term "heavy metals" is generally interpreted to include those metals from periodic table groups IIA through VIA. Semi-metallic elements like arsenic are often included in this classification. At trace levels, many of these elements are necessary to support life. However, at elevated levels they become toxic, may build up in biological systems and become a significant health hazard.

Indoor Health

Most people are aware that outdoor air pollution can damage their health but may not know that indoor air pollution can also have significant effects. Environmental Protection Agency's studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor air levels of many pollutants may be two to five times, and occasionally more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels. These levels of indoor air pollutants are of particular concern because it is estimated that most people, including children, spend as much as 90% of their time indoors. 

Over the past several decades, our exposure to indoor air pollutants is believed to have increased due to a variety of factors, including the construction of more tightly sealed buildings, reduced ventilation rates to save energy, the use of synthetic building materials and furnishings, and the use of chemically-formulated personal care products, pesticides and household cleaners. 
In recent years, comparative risk studies have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health. 

Outdoor Health

Outdoor air pollution can be harmful to anyone, but is particularly unhealthy for children. 

  • Children breathe more rapidly and inhale more pollutants per pound of body weight than adults. 
  • Children’s airways are more narrow than those of adults, and their respiratory systems are still developing. 
  • Children play more often and more vigorously outdoors, leading to greater exposure. 
  • Children tend to focus less on symptoms, and they may not stop playing even if they are wheezing.

Water Issues

The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world. However, drinking water quality varies from place to place, depending on the condition of the source water from which it is drawn and the treatment it receives. 

There is no such thing as naturally pure water. In nature, all water contains some impurities. As water flows in streams, sits in lakes and filters through layers of soil and rock in the ground, it dissolves or absorbs the substances that it touches. Some of these substances are harmless. In fact, some people prefer mineral water precisely because minerals give it an appealing taste. 

However, at certain levels, minerals, just like man-made chemicals, are considered contaminants that can make water unpalatable or even unsafe. Some contaminants come from erosion of natural rock formations. Other contaminants are substances discharged from factories, applied to farmlands or used by consumers in their homes and yards. Sources of contaminants might be in your neighborhood or might be many miles away. 

Your local water quality report tells which contaminants are in your drinking water, the levels at which they were found and the actual or likely source of each contaminant. Some ground water systems have established wellhead protection programs to prevent substances from contaminating their wells. Similarly, some surface water systems protect the watershed around their reservoir to prevent contamination. 
Right now, states and water suppliers are working systematically to assess every source of drinking water and to identify potential sources of contaminants. This process will help communities to protect their drinking water supplies from contamination, and a summary of the results will be in future water quality reports.