Data Driven Protection
To protect children from harmful exposures, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) made it simple for child care operators to find out if they are located close to hazardous sites. Drawing from several different datasets, DSHS created an interactive mapexternal icon of licensed child care centers and hazardous sites in Texas. The map includes registered industrial hazardous waste sites such as state and federal superfundexternal icon sites, drycleaners, and municipal solid waste.
With this map, child care centers and others can search their location and look for any hazardous sites nearby. Newly proposed child care locations can be rapidly screened to determine if the area is safe, and the Health Assessment and Toxicology (HAT) team can use the map to help screen locations and provide timely information to child care operators. These actions help ensure children are protected from harmful exposures.
The flexible screening tool within the map, has also been instrumental in helping protect children from harmful exposures after disasters. When Hurricane Harvey affected areas were added to the map in 2017, the HAT team were able to quickly identify which child care facilities were located near hazardous sites affected by the hurricane. The HAT team deployed a Post Disaster Self-Assessment Form to at-risk child care locations to further screen for environmental hazards. The HAT team continues to expand use of their map today.