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Around the world, the rates of childhood disease are increasing. For example, childhood asthma rates have nearly tripled over the past three decades. Neurodevelopment disorders – including autism and ADHD – now affect 10-15% of the four million babies born in the U.S. each year. One in every 88 children is affected by autism. Girls are reaching puberty at younger ages, putting them at greater risk for lifelong breast cancer. Childhood cancer has become the leading cause of death of children under the age of 15.

What is causing these diseases to increase so rapidly? There is strong evidence that links toxic exposures in our environment to increases in childhood disease. These toxins are found in our foods, our cosmetics, our electronics, and other everyday products. We know that children are uniquely vulnerable to their effects. When toxic exposures occur in the womb or during early childhood, even low levels can produce harmful effects. And with over 80,000 new chemicals entering our environment – less than 20% which have been tested – there is a pressing need to discover how these chemicals impact our children’s health.

The Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) conducts groundbreaking research to identify the environmental causes of childhood diseases and translates research findings into solutions that protect children’s health. Under the leadership of renowned pediatrician and epidemiologist Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, the Center supports ambitious research projects and trains the next generation of leaders in children’s environmental health. Our team uses the same evidence-based framework that has guided Dr. Landrigan’s past successes, ultimately building the foundation for new policies that protect our children from environmental threats.



Our core projects include:

  • Pilot Research Projects:  A “venture capital” research model that supports new studies in children’s environmental health and helps generate federal funding.
  • Autism and Learning Disability Discovery and Prevention Project:  An interdisciplinary project that investigates the preventable environmental causes of autism and learning disabilities.
  • Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program A multi-site study that researches environmental risk factors for breast cancer, including early puberty.
  • Endocrine Disruptor Research Program:  A comprehensive research plan that features the work of Shanna H. Swan, PhD – an international expert on phthalates and their effects on children’s and reproductive health.
  • Growing Up Healthy in East Harlem:  A five-year study that examines how environmental factors affect the children in Mount Sinai’s home community. 
  • The Laboratory for Environmental Analytical Chemistry:  A state-of-the-art research facility that will give the CEHC the unique ability to conduct rapid analyses of toxic chemicals.  No other institution, outside of the CDC in Atlanta, currently has this capacity.
  • The Mount Sinai Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit:  The clinical component of our Center, treating children who have suffered from toxic exposures.
  • Mount Sinai Pregnancy Biobank: A unique, shared resource that provides researchers with access to umbilical cord blood and placental tissue samples from newborns to unearth the causes of the most common childhood diseases.
  • The New York Children’s Study:  A long-term study that will follow babies from their first months of life and until age 10 – examining environmental factors and their influences on children’s health.

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2013 Greening Our Children Luncheon