Choose Safe Places (CSP) Illinois
What is Choose Safe Places Illinois?
Choose Safe Places (CSP) Illinois is a pilot program operated by the Illinois Department of Public Health as part of the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education initiative. The goal of the program is to increase the awareness of environmental hazards among early care and education providers and to identify and address the hazards that may exist on a proposed property of a new day care or early education center.
Why the program is needed
Screening for environmental hazards is not required by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to meet their fire and health safety rules. However, there are environmental hazards that could be present on or near a property that can easily go unnoticed. Exposure to such hazards could affect the health of children and staff. Taking the extra step of environmental screening adds a layer of assurance that your facility is a healthy environment.
Key factors evaluated by the program
The program focuses on the following factors that could contribute to potential environmental hazards for a prospective day care or early education center:
- Past uses of the property that may have left behind harmful chemicals
- Nearby activities that may have caused contamination that could move to and affect the property
How the program works
- Review the information in the CSP Illinois Property Evaluation Fact Sheet
- Complete and submit the attached Property Evaluation Survey to CSP Illinois
- Receive a report of your screening results from CSP Illinois within two weeks
Past Activities at the Property
Providers should consider what activities have been conducted on their proposed property when siting a new day care or early education center. Considering the zoning requirements for a day care center are the same as commercial properties, a wide variety of businesses or operations could have used the property and left behind chemicals that remain in the environment for many years. Activities which could have left contamination behind include:
- Dry cleaners
- Nail or hair salons
- Gas stations
- Automotive repair shops
- Funeral homes
- Firefighter training
- Industrial processes
When researching the history of the property, a provider should search for information related to any past manufacturing use; or storage, mishandling, or disposal of hazardous substances at the property. Learning what the property was used for in the past is useful in determining what kind of contamination could have been left behind.
Property History Resources
- Property owner
- Local health department
- Town planner or zoning manager
- Town building department
Nearby Sources of Contamination
Dry cleaners and nail salons are common examples of commercial businesses that are adjacent to early care facilities, particularly in strip malls. The chemicals used by these businesses could affect the indoor air quality of adjoining spaces, especially if they use a shared HVAC system.
There may also be places where contamination of groundwater and soil has occurred. Chemicals that evaporate can create chemical vapors underground. These vapors can move and come in contact with buildings and contaminate indoor air. This process – when pollution moves from air spaces in soil to indoor air – is called vapor intrusion. Nearby current and former property uses, and nearby known contaminated sites can provide clues about the potential for vapor intrusion to affect a location. In many cases, the same resources used to research a prospective site's history can also be used to research nearby properties.