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    Environmental Surveillance and Toxicology Branch
    Health Assessment and Toxicology Program
    1100 West 49th Street
    Austin, Texas 78756

    Phone: 1-888-681-0927
    Fax: 512-776-7222
    epitox@dshs.texas.gov


Texas Choose Safe Places

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Safe Siting Initiative Safe Cleaning & Disinfecting Resources

Texas Choose Safe Places Program (TXCSP) helps protect children from exposures to harmful substances where they learn, grow and play. TXCSP is a part of a national project. Harmful substances include chemicals or materials that are dangerous to human health. Such substances can enter the environment because of human activities. Harmful substances can also occur naturally in the environment, like radon or asbestos.

An exposure happens when a substance gets on a person’s skin or into their bodies. This can happen when a person:

  • breathes in contaminated air
  • eats contaminated food
  • swallows contaminated dirt or dust
  • touches contaminated surfaces
  • drinks contaminated water
  • gets contaminated material in their nose, mouth, or eyes

Being exposed to a harmful substance does not necessarily mean it will make you sick. Whether an exposure is harmful to health depends on many things, like: 

  • amount of the substance that got onto or into the body
  • how harmful to health the substance is
  • how long the exposure lasted 
  • sensitivity of the person exposed

Contamination that may lead to harmful exposures is called an environmental hazard.

Children’s Environmental Health

Children may be more sensitive to certain contaminants in their environments.

Children’s bodies may be exposed to higher amounts of contamination than adults. This is because, for their body size, children:

  • drink more water
  • eat more food
  • breathe in more air
  • and have more skin surface area

Children’s behaviors may also put them at risk for exposures. For example, children:

  • spend time playing on the ground and outside, near possible contamination
  • put their hands, toys, and other objects into their mouths
  • touch their eyes, nose and mouth frequently
  • rely on adults for help with good hand hygiene
  • cannot remove themselves from unsafe environments

Young children are also sensitive to harmful substances. This is because their brains and other body systems are still growing. If children have harmful exposures while their bodies are growing, they can face permanent health effects. Reducing exposure to harmful substances may help reduce risks of developing certain conditions. Conditions linked to harmful exposures include asthma, learning and attention disorders, and even some types of cancer.

Texas Choose Safe Places Initiatives

A property contaminated with hazardous substances may pose a threat to children's health. The Safe Siting Initiative helps child care programs screen properties for potential contamination. TXCSP can provide technical support to help address contamination, if found.

Some cleaning and disinfecting products contain toxic chemicals. The Safe Cleaning Initiative offers resources for preventing harmful chemical exposures. For example, we offer resources on selecting safer products and bleach safety.

Click on a box below to learn more or find resources.

Call poison control at 1-800-222-1222, if you or someone else is exposed to a harmful substance. If you or someone else are having symptoms after an exposure, call your doctor or 911.
Together, we can keep kids safe where they learn, grow and play!
Last updated August 19, 2022