New York State Office of Children and Family Services

Environmental Hazards Guidance Sheet

Read this guidance sheet carefully before signing the Environmental Hazards Statement. The Statement will ask you a question concerning potential environmental/health hazards on or near the location at which you will provide child care. You will be asked to answer yes or no and sign the Statement. The information on this guidance sheet will help you answer the question accurately.

All day care applicants and providers are responsible for providing a site which is free from any health risk posed by an environmental/ health hazard. Children in care need to be in the safest place possible.

What is an Environmental Hazard?

Environmental hazards are conditions that expose persons to dangerous substances, which can cause them increased risk of illness or injury. These hazards can be the result of chemicals used or stored at a location or a facility. The facility may be currently operating, or may even be closed. Environmental hazards also happen as a result of an accident or emergency event. Some environmental hazards are ongoing while others may have been corrected.

Exposure to harmful substances may increase the risk of illness or injury to a person now or in the future. The amount of harm caused to a person living at or near a hazard depends upon the length of time and/or the type of contact a person has with the hazard. Children can be more sensitive to environmental hazards due to their small size and developing bodies.

Path and Route of Exposure

It is important to understand that harmful substances can affect you even if they are miles from your property. Harmful substances can and do move. Some of the ways they move are through the air, soil or underground water. The way a harmful substance moves from its original site to surrounding areas is known as the “path of exposure”. This is a term you may hear in researching a hazard around your property. If you are reporting an environmental hazard and are told about a path of exposure you will need to include the information on part I of the Environmental Information Form.

The term “route of exposure” refers to how people come into contact with the hazard or how it enters the body. Examples are:

  • absorption through the skin,
  • inhalation or breathing; and
  • ingestion or eating

The path of exposure to the day care and the route of exposure need to be evaluated to determine if there are any dangers that need to be resolved.

Common Sources of Environmental Hazards That May Need Evaluation

  • Lead-based Paint Old peeling or chipping lead-based paint, lead dust and soil with lead in it can cause a risk of serious health problems, especially to small children. Lead-based paint may be found in buildings built before 1978 (1960 in New York City). The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) recommends that all child care program sites constructed in whole or in part before 1978 (1960 in New York City) be assessed for lead hazards.
  • Radon Radon is a natural gas sometimes found in indoor air. If your town or city is listed as a zone 1 radon site (list provided) and your home or building has not already been tested, must complete testing and resolve any identified problems before registration/licensing is completed. If your home or building has already been tested for radon levels, additional testing may not be necessary. An Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) representative will work with you to determine if additional testing is required.
  • Gas StationsGas Stations that have had a recent oil or gasoline spill. (Gasoline stations are NOT generally an environmental hazard. Gas Stations should be considered environmental hazards only if you have been informed that the gasoline station has had a spill, has underground corroded tanks or a tank leak. )
  • Additional sources for hazards:Dry cleaners, nail salons, vehicle repair shops or garages, paint shops, metal work and forging shops, chemical or pesticide storage warehouses, power plants, manufacturing plants, and incinerators. The hazardous chemicals that may be present at these sites are: perchloroethylene, methyl, methacrylate, petrochemicals, volatile organic compounds, PCB, oils, solvents, glycol, and/or hydrocarbons.
  • Further hazards Include:Hazardous waste sites, municipal landfills, junkyards, superfund sites (including brownfields, voluntary cleanup program sites, and state and federal superfund sites). The harmful substances that may be at these sites are: toxins, volatile organics metals and/or leachate.

In addition to the list of examples above, there may be other environmental hazards that can cause harm or injury. If you have a concern about a specific situation, refer to the hazards listed on the Environmental Hazards Primary Contacts chart and call the agency listed for help. You may also contact the Bureau of Early Childhood Services in your area of the state for further assistance. Regional office phone numbers are found under Resource and Agency Oversight listing at our website:

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Page last reviewed: October 30, 2018