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					  Children’s Environmental Health Disparities: Black and

  African American Children and Secondhand Smoke

   This fact sheet focuses on disparities in exposure to secondhand smoke for Black and African American children.
                This fact sheet also provides important actions that can be taken to protect all children.

   Pollution in the environment may        cause cancer.24 Secondhand smoke              American households regardless of
harm children more than adults. This       is especially bad for children because        the age of the children.
is because children’s bodies are still     their bodies are developing, and                 Older children are also at risk
growing. Also, they eat more, drink        because they breathe at higher rates          from exposure at home and school.
more, and breathe more in propor-          than adults do.                               Twenty-two percent of middle
tion to their body size than adults.          Secondhand smoke is a major trig-          school students and 24% of high
And children’s normal behavior can         ger for asthma.94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 Stud-   school students are exposed to sec-
expose them more to pollution. This        ies have linked secondhand smoke              ondhand smoke in the home.91
means that exposure to a given             to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
amount of pollution results in a larger                                                     Exposure to secondhand smoke
                                           (SIDS), bronchitis, pneumonia, and            has declined during the 1990s.
quantity of the pollutant in children’s
                                           ear infections.100, 101, 102 Each year        Education campaigns about the
bodies compared to adults.
                                           the US spends more than $700 mil-             dangers of smoking and secondhand
   Children of racial and ethnic minori-   lion on children’s medical costs due          smoke may have played a role in the
ties and poor children may be exposed      to secondhand smoke.”90 Children              decline.29 Many of these efforts now
to more pollution.93 Thus, they may        born to women exposed to ETS                  target teens and parents of children
face the biggest health risks from         while pregnant have shown signs of            with asthma.
pollution. This fact sheet describes       delayed development in speech and
Black and African American children’s      language, learning, and memory.25, 26         What Can You Do?
health risks related to secondhand
                                              Smoking in the home is a key                  If you smoke, don’t smoke in your
smoke. It tells you how you can take
                                           source of secondhand smoke. Kids              home and car. Don’t allow family and
actions to protect all children.
                                           spend most of their time at home              visitors to do so, either. Moving to
                                           and indoors. A national survey found          another room or opening a window is
What is Secondhand                         that almost 3 million children (11%)          not enough to protect your children.
Smoke?                                     aged 6 and under are exposed to               Smoke outside until you can quit,
   Secondhand smoke, or environ-           secondhand smoke at home four or              away from children, and away from
mental tobacco smoke (ETS), is a mix       more days per week.27 This survey             doors and windows to prevent the
of smoke from the burning end of a         also found that exposure to second-           smoke from entering the home.
cigarette, pipe, or cigar and smoke        hand smoke was higher in house-
                                                                                            Don’t smoke if you are pregnant
exhaled by smokers. It contains more       holds with low income and educa-
                                                                                         or near someone who is pregnant.
than 4,000 chemicals, many of which        tional levels, and higher in African

                                      Secondhand Smoke
       Visit or call (202) 564-2188.

   Take the EPA Smoke-Free Home                                        section, where kids can test their
Pledge: Call 1-866-SMOKE-FREE                                          knowledge. It also has fact sheets
(1-866-766-5337) or visit: http://                                     and posters for anti-smoking cam-                                 paigns. The site describes community
                                                                       action plans and state anti-tobacco
   For more information on how to
                                                                       programs. For more information, visit
protect kids from ETS, visit http://
                                                                          Healthy and asthma-friendly
What’s Being Done?                                                     schools are free of tobacco. CDC
   Here are some examples of efforts                                   offers an easy-to-use self-assess-
by Federal governmental agencies,                                      ment and planning tool for schools
local and national organizations to ad-                                to improve their health and safety
dress secondhand smoke.                                                programs. To access this tool, visit
   EPA’s Smoke-Free Homes Pro-
gram website can help you keep your                                       Many workplaces and other
home smoke-free. It offers bilingual                                   facilities are now smoke-free. The
brochures explaining the dangers                                       American Nonsmokers’ Rights
of secondhand smoke that you can                                       Foundation tracks tobacco control
download. To learn more, visit http://                                 regulations in a database. It publishes                                                maps and lists of smoke-free cities,
                                                                       states, universities, hotels, airports,
   The Ad Council and EPA work                                         restaurants, and other venues. To
together on the National Childhood                                     learn more, visit
Asthma Public Service Campaign.                                        org/goingsmokefree.php?id=519.
The Campaign raises awareness
about secondhand smoke and other
asthma triggers. It also provides tips
for parents about simple steps they                                      Chemicals from secondhand
can take to help their child. To view                                   smoke can be measured in the
the radio and TV campaign materials,
                                                                       blood. A study found that levels
available in English and Spanish, visit                                                     of cotinine, a breakdown product
   The Centers for Disease Control                                     of nicotine that can be measured
and Prevention (CDC) has a bilingual                                    in blood, were on average four
Tobacco Information and Preven-
tion Source (TIPS) website. TIPS
                                                                         times higher in Black children
describes the health hazards of                                               than White children30
smoking. It features a Tips 4 Youth

For more information on children’s environmental health, visit the     n National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National   n DiversityData, Harvard School of Public Health website on
EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection and Environmental Edu-      Institutes of Health,                             indicators of how people of different racial/ethnic backgrounds
cation at      n African American Health Care and Medical Information, http://
                                                                                                                                                 live includes comparative data about housing, neighborhood
age.htm. You can also call the office at (202) 564–2188.                                                        conditions, residential integration, and education, www.
n America’s Children and the Environment data/indicators, http://      n African American Health Network, National Medical Association,
                                                                                                                                                                                                          n Unnatural Causes, a TV documentary series and public outreach
n Office of Minority Health, Centers for Disease Control and Preven-   n Kaiser Family Foundation Health Disparities Report: A Weekly
                                                                                                                                                 campaign on the causes of socioeconomic racial/ethnic inequi-
   tion,                                         Look at Race, Ethnicity and Health/ http://          ties s in health, http://www.
n Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units, www.aoec.
   org/PEHSU.htm or call toll free 1–888–347–2632

             Visit or call (202) 564-2188.

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