When my daughter was in preschool, she told me that instead of washing hands before lunch, the children used hand sanitizer. The thinking behind this was probably that hand sanitizer kills bacteria and viruses and therefore – presto! – problem solved. Hands are clean, and it’s so much quicker.
But hand sanitizer isn’t designed to remove the chemicals, heavy metals and toxic dust that stick to kids’ hands. Only soap and water can do that. So instead of washing away those toxic contaminants, my daughter was probably eating them with her snack.
There are many ways schools can reduce children’s cumulative exposure to chemicals and contaminants, and many are relatively simple. Here are eight important questions to ask:
Requiring hand washing with soap and water, especially after kids have been outside and before they eat, is arguably the easiest change schools can make to reduce kids’ exposure to chemical pollutants from dust and other sources.
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