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Oregon Choose Safe Places

Logo: Children at table with an adult

We protect the health of children where they learn and play by providing guidance on how to make your environment safer for kids.

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Watch this short video to learn more about our program!




​Oregon Choose Safe Places (OCSP) is a non-regulatory statewide initiative designed to help childcare centers make their properties safe for kids by protecting them from potentially harmful chemicals. We do this by helping you make safe siting decisions for future childcare centers. We can also help you evaluate potential environmental hazards at your existing childcare center.

To develop this program, we worked closely with the Oregon Department of Education’s Early Learning Division (ELD), and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). ATSDR has developed a short video (link) on this program.​

Watch our short Oregon Choose Safe Places video (link) to learn more about our program!


Harmful chemicals can pose a hidden danger

Children and adults can be exposed to harmful chemicals from sources such as:

  • Contaminated soil and groundwater
  • Polluted drinking water
  • Outdoor air pollution
  • Chemicals used indoors

These chemicals can get into our bodies through skin contact, breathing, eating, or drinking. You might not consider this to be an issue at a childcare center, but harmful chemicals can linger on your property from past site activities or travel onto your property.


Children are more sensitive to harmful chemicals than adults

Children’s developing brains and growing bodies make them more vulnerable to the effects of harmful chemicals. Children tend to put their hands in their mouths, play on the ground, drink more water, and breathe more air for their size. These activities could potentially expose them to harmful chemicals could disrupt development, learning, and behavior. It can also contribute to diseases later in life.

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Check for potential hazards

We encourage every childcare operator to carefully evaluate their current or future sites using our environmental health assessment checklist. Our program can help you look for potential exposure to harmful chemicals from the following sources:​​


dumptruck Former use of site
​When businesses like factories, dry cleaners, and warehouses close, they can leave behind harmful chemicals in the air, soil, and water.

container spilling liquid​​ Nearby sites and activities
​If chemicals are released from nearby businesses they can move into the air, soil, or groundwater of a nearby property. For example, fumes from a nail salon can be a problem if it shares a ventilation system with your childcare center.

mountains with air particles Naturally occurring contamination
​Some contaminants occur naturally in air, water, and soil. Radon gas is a common natural hazard that can seep from underground into indoor air.

dripping faucet Safe drinking water
Clean water is crucial, especially for infants who drink formula made with tap water. Public water supplies are regulated and tested, but private wells are the owner’s responsibility to test. Also, lead from old pipes can leach into the water.

Air quality
Chem​icals in outdoor air can travel inside your building. These can combine with everyday activities like cooking, cleaning, and heating your property, causing your indoor air quality to be worse than outside.

Visit our Resources section for more information on these environmental health topics. Our Resource Guide identifies additional sources of information on potential environmental hazards and answers frequently asked questions.


Checklists and tools are available

We developed a checklist to help you evaluate potential environmental hazards at your property. Complete the Provider Checklist through our online form (coming soon!) or by printing and mailing us a physical copy. We will contact you when we receive your completed checklist to provide guidance on how to decrease your exposure to harmful chemicals.

​Review the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s list of recommendations (link) to help ensure that your early education and care programs is located in a safe place.

Visit our resources section for more information and tools to help identify and mitigate potential environmental hazards at your property.


Resources for Childcare Providers

  • Provider checklist:
  • Use this checklist to evaluate potential environmental hazards at your property

  • Resource guide:
  • Use this guide to find additional sources of information on potential environmental hazards and view responses to frequently asked questions.


Oregon Choose Safe Places

Phone: 971-673-0970

Email: Oregon.CSP@dhsoha.state.or.us

Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division
Attn: Oregon Choose Safe Places Program
800 NE Oregon St., Suite 640
Portland, OR 97232

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