• Contact Us

    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

TXCSP aims to keep children and caregivers safe from harmful substances in child care locations. TXCSP’s Safe Siting Initiative helps child care operators look for environmental hazards near child care locations. Operators can complete a questionnaire to help identify potential environmental hazards. If the TXCSP questionnaire identifies an environmental hazard, we offer technical support. Click on the Safe Siting button below to learn more. You can also take our Property History Questionnaire.

Exposure to harmful substances can also happen through the use of certain chemical products. Certain cleaners and pesticides contain chemicals that may be harmful if not used properly. TXCSP serves as a resource for choosing and safely using chemical products.

In collaboration with Texas A&M’s AgriLife extension, TXCSP developed Safe Cleaning for COVID-19: A Child Care Home’s Guide to Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting. The online course describes how to safely clean, sanitize, and disinfect child care homes to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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 July 19, 2021