Sunshine and air pollution

Keep your service SunSmart and respond to the dangers associated with air pollution.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • All Early Learning Services 
  • Service Managers
  • Educators, Teachers and Kaiako
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau

Services are required to provide a safe learning environment for children.

Early learning centres should be SunSmart

Keeping children safe from sun damage is critical. Excessive sun exposure increases the risk of developing skin cancers including melanoma, in later life.

The Cancer Society's free online training module provides teachers with information about being sun smart and tools to support their service to do this.

SunSmart module for educators(external link)

If they get a pass rate of at least 80% in the final quiz, they will receive a certificate and a reminder of their own identified call to action. Teachers can use this course to show that they are meeting the Code of Professional Responsibility by showing their:

  • commitment to learners – promoting the wellbeing of learners and protecting them from harm
  • commitment to families and whānau  engaging families and whānau in their children’s learning
  • commitment to the Standards of Professional Learning and Professional Relationships.

Sun protection policies

Centres should develop a sun protection policy and practice to keep children safe and comfortable when they’re outside. This should be shared with parents and carers.

Sun protection policies should include:

  • shade
  • clothing
  • sun hats
  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses

See the Cancer Society's sample policy for early childhood centres to help you to develop your own policy.

Sample sun protection policy(external link)

Early learning centres should respond to the dangers associated with air pollution

Air pollution can be a big threat to children’s health. Their lungs are developing and they breathe proportionally more air than adults. Children are also often outside more than adults.

The tiny particles in air pollution can cause long-term health problems. They can cause asthma and bronchitis and can lead to problems like lung cancer and heart disease.

Air pollution and the location of services

Because vehicles cause a lot of pollution, there may be more risk of air pollution if your early learning service is located:

  • within five metres of a busy intersection or a busy area
  • within 20 metres of a busy road
  • within 100 metres of a motorway.

Other places with a high risk of air pollution are:

  • near a railway or industrial area
  • underneath an airport flight path
  • near land that has been contaminated, for example, by industry or horticulture
  • near petrol stations or services like spray painters.

Ways to keep children safe

There are small things you can do to keep children safe.

  • If your early learning service or kōhanga reo is near a road, have the outside play area as far away from the road as possible.
  • Ask parents to turn off their car engines when they drop off or pick up their children.
  • If the children are going on an excursion, choose times when there isn’t as much traffic.
  • If you’re worried about the air quality at your service, contact your local regional council.
  • Encourage your regional council to include provisions for early learning services in their plans and encourage your regional council to have air plans that cover your early learning service or kōhanga reo. 

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