Summer! School is out and fun is in. For parents, summertime also means thinking about child safety while kids spend more time outdoors and at home. Here are a few reliable online resources that provide information to help parents navigate common summertime (and even year-round) exposures.
1. Protection against the sun: Choosing the healthiest and effective sunscreen
Resource: The Environmental Work Group
Choosing inadequate sunscreen without proper UV-A and UVB protection and with low SPF protection can leave you vulnerable to the sun’s rays. For the past ten years, the EWG has published an annual guide to purchasing the most effective and healthy sunscreens. Its website also allows visitors to enter their current sunscreen to see the safety and effectiveness profile compared to other products on the market. It even highlights sunscreen products that the FDA has called “inherently misleading”. A quick browse through the EWG’s resource guide will help you choose the safest and most effective product for your needs.
Click here to access the Environmental Working Group’s 2016 Guide to Sunscreen:
2. Keeping your home safe: Investigating the carcinogenicity of compounds in your household
Resource: The National Toxicology Program
If you’re worried about whether a specific product in your household cleaning regimen can cause cancer, chances are the National Toxicology Program has a report on it. For the last two decades, the United States Department of Health and Human Services has published easily accessible lists of substances with known or suspected cancer activity. Those that have found to have no association with cancer following a general review of current evidence are delisted from site. And if the substance you’re looking for isn’t on the site, you can nominate it for review! If you truly believe, a body of scientists should investigate the carcinogenicity of a compound, this website is a strong resource for those seeking a standardized and thorough review of a product
Click here to access the current list of scientific reviews by the National Toxicology Program of potential human carcinogens:
And click here to either nominate a substance or review substances that are currently under review:
3. Keeping the Ticks and Mosquitoes Away: Finding the most effective insect repellent – There’s an App for That!
Resource: The National Pesticide Information Center
The CDC reports that from 1999 to 2012, the West Nile Virus spread from just 3 states to 48 U.S. states, most often by the bite of an infected mosquito.  Fortunately, a collaboration between Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosts a user-friendly online service called the “My Repellent Finder App” that recommends bug sprays according to the desired number of hours of protection (from 0 to 10 hours) and the target bug ( mosquitoes, ticks or both). The application includes only EPA-registered insecticides and includes the main active ingredient and the length of protection.
Click here to access the App directly: http://pi.ace.orst.edu/myrepel//
4. Investigating Radon Exposure in Your Home
Resource: The National Radon Program Service at Kansas State University
Radon is a naturally, non-odorous occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer.  According to the EPA, radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the first-leading cause in non-smokers. The National Radon Program Service, supported by the EPA, provides simple directions on how to purchase a $15 testing kit and what to do if tests show an elevated radon level. The site also explains what steps are involved in mitigating elevated radon level, including how to find certified professionals to assist in mitigation.
For information on how to purchase a testing kit, visit: http://sosradon.org/
You can find a listing of certified radon mitigation professionals by contacting either the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists www.aarst-nrpp.com or the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB): www.nrsb .org.
5. Managing Accidental or Intentional Poisonings
Resource: National Poison Center
- Your baby ate pills that were sitting on your kitchen counter.
- Your child drank a cleaner thinking it was soda.
- Your grandfather mixed up his pills and doesn’t know which ones he took.
For all of these accidental ingestions, the National Poison Center has excellent, quick resources to help with each scenario. In the case of sudden ingestions of potentially toxic substances with no obvious symptoms, call the free and confidential Poison Center Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Poison control experts will give advice on whether to go to the emergency room and which treatment steps to take at home.
Alternatively, parents may also log on to the webPOISONCONTROL® tool to get specific recommendations based on the person’s age, weight, substance and amount taken.
*Please be advised that if someone collapses, has a seizure, or is having trouble breathing, call 911 right away! – See more at: http://webpoisoncontrol.org/#sthash.lO7h2HmZ.dpuf
In the case of potential ingestions of unidentified pills, a particular useful tool is the Pill Identifier Application, which is also available on the National Poison Center site. This tool allows visitors to identify pills simply by the shape, color or imprinted code (a unique code printed on every certified medication in the United States). To access the Pill Identifier, go to http://pill-id.webpoisoncontrol.org/#/intro
With these resources, you’re sure to have a safer summer!
Fischetti, Mark. “West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease Spread Across the U.S.” Scientific American. Springer Nature, 1 May 2014. Web. 11 June 2016.
“Radon.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. 11 June 2016.
This blog post was written by Nnenna Okoye, UIC Medical Student. Edited by Dr. Susan Buchanan.