The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units issued a joint statement "Clinical Recommendations Regarding the Safe Return of Children to Areas Impacted by Flooding and/or Hurricanes." A portion of the text is provided below. The announcement is also posted on the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health Web site at

"Children are especially vulnerable to environmental hazards. They eat, drink, and breathe more than adults on a pound for pound basis.

"Children are in a critical period of development when toxic exposures can have profound negative effects, and their exploratory behavior often places them in direct contact with materials that adults would avoid.

"Key issues for habitability of an area impacted by flooding and/or hurricanes include restoration of drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities, safe road conditions, removal of solid waste and debris, and replacement or renovation of flood damaged homes. Before children return, schools and outdoor play areas should be cleaned and ready for use. Children, and whenever possible teens, should not be involved in clean up efforts but should return after the area is cleaned up. In short, children should be the last group to return to areas impacted by flooding and/or hurricanes.

"These recommendations also apply to pregnant women.

"Note: This document does not contain specific criteria or a comprehensive list of environmental hazards. The decision to bring children and other residents back to areas impacted by flooding and/or hurricanes rests with local, state, and federal officials. Standards for environmental testing and clean up should be adopted by local health officials drawing upon relevant existing evidence-based guidelines and in consultation with experts in children's health and the environment.

"In the aftermath of a flood, particular attention should be paid to issues relating to water contamination and mold, in addition to common pediatric environmental concerns such as physical safety, lead, asbestos, and chemicals.

"More detailed information about the return of children to these areas can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site"

Publication date: 10/31/2005