This section lists some interventions that can be used to avoid placing ECE programs on or next to a contaminated site that might cause harmful exposures to children. These actions can help identify sites that could be a problem before an ECE program is in operation.
Many of these interventions could also be used to avoid situations in which potentially incompatible businesses open near an existing ECE program.
Table 4.2 Actions that can help identify sites with hazards from former and nearby uses to a site or naturally occurring contaminants
|Partnering with appropriate professionals
|Identify partners. Identify partners and their abilities, roles, resources, and expertise that they can bring to the safe siting process. Focus on partners who can identify and assess hazards from past uses of a site, from sites that could pose an exposure concern if located near a child care facility, or from the location of naturally occurring contaminants.
|Communicate. Establish and foster lines of communication between partners. Set up a process for partners to share data about sites and encourage open, honest dialogue.
|Finding potential problem sites
|Geographic information system (GIS) mapping of ECE programs and known waste sites. Mapping through GIS indicates where ECE programs are located in relationship to known hazardous sites, potentially problematic or hazardous sites (such as active dry cleaners, gas stations, or those identified under RCRA8 ), or naturally occurring contamination. More information about GIS can be found in Chapter 6.
|Property records search. Searching public records (county records, deeds, and health or fire department records) for a site’s past use can help identify past activities that might have left contamination at that location. Look for old maps or aerial photos of the area. Consider talking to people knowledgeable about the area to determine what might have been on the site in the past.
|Documentation and property questionnaire. Appendix A has an example of a property questionnaire that can be completed by child care providers. The questionnaire can be used as part of the child care licensing process.
|Phase 1 and/or phase 2 — environmental site assessments. If sites have had a phase 1 or phase 2 environmental site assessment they can provide useful information on contamination. Sometimes these site assessments are performed on commercial space before a bank will lend money for the purchase of the space. Asking if a phase 1 or phase 2 environmental site assessment has ever been performed for a site can provide useful information about contamination from past use.
|Inspections. Trained child care licensing inspectors can help identify sites that might not be suitable for a child care center because of past use or the proximity of potential hazards. Chapter 6 provides tools to help with training child care inspectors.
|Windshield survey or site visit. Doing a site visit to see what types of sites are neighboring a child care center site might help identify some sites that need further investigation.
|Zoning and permitting. Understanding local zoning and permitting may help identify sites that could have had a past use that left hazardous chemicals behind.
|Training, Education, Awareness Building
|Child care inspectors. Because child care inspectors are already visiting child care centers, training them to look for clues related to potential contamination can be an effective way to find problematic sites. Training should focus on identifying potential issues with the former use of sites, building awareness on potential issues from adjacent site uses, and enhancing awareness of naturally occurring contamination.
|Child care owners/operators. Child care center owners and operators want to keep children safe. Educating them about past uses of a site, safe siting issues, and naturally occurring contaminants can help them identify potentially problematic locations and avoid placing a child care center there.
|Local officials. Local officials, such as boards of health, planning boards, zoning boards, city managers, and fire and safety officials, might have a role in permitting ECE programs in their communities. Educating local officials about potential hazards, vulnerabilities of children, and the importance of good siting decisions can help keep ECE programs from being placed on problematic sites.
8 The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) regulates the management of solid waste (e.g., garbage), hazardous waste, and underground storage tanks holding petroleum products or certain chemicals. More information on RCRA can be found at https://www.epa.gov/rcraExternal