Dr. Landrigan, a renowned pediatrician and epidemiologist, has devoted his career to protecting children against environmental threats to health. He has been a member of the faculty of Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1985 and Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine since 1990. He was named Mount Sinai’s Dean for Global Health in 2010.
Dr. Landrigan’s work in disease prevention began at the CDC, where he led efforts to control measles and rubella epidemics across the country. He also worked in the Global Campaign for the Eradication of Smallpox – one of the greatest medical triumphs of the twentieth century.
In the early 1970s, Dr. Landrigan began a series of landmark studies that investigated the effects of lead on American children. Using careful epidemiologic investigations conducted among children who lived near a lead smelter in El Paso, Texas, he found that lead causes brain damage to children, even when exposures are too low to cause obvious signs and symptoms. This discovery convinced the U.S. government to mandate removal of lead from gasoline and paint – actions that have produced a 95 percent decline in childhood lead poisoning, increased the average IQ score by six points, and saved the U.S. government $200 billion each year.
Dr. Landrigan’s breakthrough discovery led to a fundamental new understanding of how lead and other toxic chemicals can damage the developing brains of infants and children. His other accomplishments include:
• Leading a groundbreaking report at the National Academy Sciences (NAS) that found children to be uniquely susceptible to pesticides. This served as the blueprint for the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 – the only federal environmental law that contains explicit provisions for the protection of children.
• Creating the intellectual foundation for the 1997 Presidential Executive Order on Children’s Health and the Environment, which recognized that children are uniquely susceptible to environmental hazards.
• Playing a leading role in establishing the Office of Children’s Health Protection at Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
• Conducting the medical studies that followed the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and consulting extensively to the World Health Organization (WHO). This international collaboration led the CEHC to be designated a WHO Collaborating Centre in Children’s Environmental Health – one of two Centres of its type in the U.S.