The Impact of Environmental Toxins on Children’s Health

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we, as humans, have the inherent and inalienable right to "life, liberty and security of person." Undoubtedly, this right should extend to children as well. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that "every child has the inherent right to life," survival, and development. The Center for the Human Rights of Children acknowledges that children require special protections.

There is an intimate association between the physical world in which children live and the quality of their lives. Their housing, the water that they drink, the air that they breathe, and the quality of their schools and neighborhoods each have an impact on children's health, happiness and long-term development. The United Nations recognizes the important role of the environment in relation to our human rights, with respect to access to clean water. And because they are still developing, children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of environmental hazards and toxins.

In response to the risks that indoor toxic hazards pose to children and families’ health, the CHRC is part of a community collaborative, Proactively Addressing Substandard Housing Working Group (PASH), to develop a health-focused approach to Chicago’s home inspection program and ensure that all Chicagoans, especially vulnerable children, live in safe, healthy, and affordable housing.  PASH is promoting a Healthy Home Check-Up for all Chicago rental units, to work alongside Chicago’s current home inspection program. 

Other members of the collaborative include the Metropolitan Tenants’ Organization, Loyola University Chicago Law School’s CIVITAS ChildLaw Policy Institute, Sinai Urban Health Institute, Elevate Energy, the National Center for Healthy Housing, and Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing.