Raising Healthy Children

The Newsletter of the Children's Environmental Health Center                 October 2011

Our Mission: Protecting Children Against Environmental Threats to Health

Dr. Landrigan

Dr. Philip J. Landrigan

Director, CEHC

In This Issue
Our Guide to Apple Picking
The Top 15 Environmental Threats
About the CEHC

Dear Friends of the Children's Environmental Health Center:

The weather is getting colder, the leaves are changing, and fall is in full swing at our Center. To ensure that your children are healthy this autumn season, we have prepared a special October edition of Raising Healthy Children.


In this issue, we give you tools to protect your children from pesticides in the apple orchard and toxins around the home. First, we teach you how to plan a safe trip to the apple orchard. We also outline the 15 most common environmental hazards and teach you simple steps to prevent exposures - preparing your family for a healthy fall season.


On behalf of our Center, I wish your family a safe and happy October.




Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc

Director, Children's Environmental Health Center

Mount Sinai School of Medicine


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CEHC's Guide to Apple Picking
Healthy tips for your next trip to the orchard.  

Each fall, families head to the apple orchard for this fun, outdoor activity. However, many do not realize that potential exposures can occur while picking apples. Apples may contain pesticides and cider may not be pasteurized - exposing your children to harmful toxins and bacteria.

Before planning your trip, be sure to read the following tips:

Pick an organic orchard.
Before heading to the farm, make sure your orchard is organic. Use the database at PickYourOwn.org to find information about farms near you.


Make sure your orchard uses integrated pest management (IPM) - not pesticides or herbicides.
Integrated pest management (IPM) is the lea
st toxic way to control pests. Before heading to the orchard, call and ask if they use IPM techniques.

Bring your own re-usable bags to the orchard.
To avoid exposure to unwanted chemicals, carry home your apples in a re-usable cotton bag. This not only protects your children from potential exposures, but it is also good for the environment.


Wash your apples after picking and peel the skin.
Due to their edible skin, apples are higher in pesticides than many other fruits and vegetables. Before serving, scrub the skin thoroughly. Then peel to avoid any additional exposure.

If you're buying apple cider, make sure it is pasteurized.
Often times, apples fall to the ground and are exposed to bacteria found in manure. If these contaminated apples are not washed thoroughly, your cider could contain e.coli bacteria. To prevent this risk, make sure all cider is fully pasteurized.




Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World (2001) by Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, Herbert L. Needleman, MD, and Mary Landrigan, MPA

The Top 15 Threats to Your Child's Health

Dr. Landrigan shares the most common environmental hazards and teaches parents how to prevent exposures.

Have you ever wondered which environmental threats are
most common around your home, your school, your yard, or even at the playground? Dr. Landrigan recently shared the 15 most common hazards with iVillage.com:


Where it's Found


A poisonous contaminant found in older outdoor play structures and wooden surfaces.


Tip for prevention: Replace older wooden decks and play sets with safer alternatives like cedar. Apply a sealant every six months to create a barrier between your children and the chemical.


A mineral fiber used in construction materials of older homes.  Thanks to legislation, this toxin is less of a problem than it was in the past.


Tip for prevention: Have a certified contractor check your home, especially the basement.

Bisphenol-A (BPA)

A chemical that may be used in plastic containers, like baby bottles, baby formula canisters, and the inner linings of metal cans.


Tip for prevention: Buy glass bottles or BPA-free products. Avoid plastic #7.


Often used in pacifiers, bath toys, and other soft toys - items that children may put in their mouths.


Tip for prevention: Look for items labeled phthalate-free.

Carbon Monoxide

Odorless and colorless, it is produced when fuels like wood, charcoal, gas, or kerosene are burned.


Tip for prevention: Have fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, water heaters, gas stoves, and ovens) inspected every year. Buy a carbon monoxide detector for your home.

Flame Retardants

Found in household dust from flame-resistant mattresses, foam-padded furniture, computer screens, TVs, and curtains. 


Tip for prevention: Replace old furniture with exposed foam. Buy products that are made from natural fibers like cotton and wool, which are less flammable.


Foam insulation and cabinets made from pressed wood can release formaldehyde into the air.


Tip for prevention: Hire an industrial hygienist to test your home's insulation for formaldehyde. If levels are high, replace the insulation.


Still found in homes built before 1978 - when lead was banned from paints and gasoline.


Tip for prevention: Have a certified lead inspector examine your house.


Fish like tuna, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish contain high levels of this toxic metal.


Tip for prevention: Make sure your children eat fish that are lower in mercury content - like shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.


This toxin has been found in drinking water, baby formula, and some foods.


Tip for prevention: Contact your local water company to see if your water contains perchlorate. If your drinking water comes from a private well, have it tested privately.


Pesticides are designed to be toxic to the nervous system, killing insects in the lawn. Children can be exposed by playing outside or can track pesticides in the house.


Tip for prevention: Use substitutes for chemical treatments. If your children play on pesticide-treated lawns, make sure they take their shoes off before entering the house.


This colorless and odorless gas can seep up from the ground of buildings built on rock formations.


Tip for prevention: Test for radon when purchasing a new home or test your current home with a radon detector.  


As chemicals that evaporate into the air, children can be exposed in high traffic areas, through contaminated water, and by using some aerosol products. 


Tip for prevention: Avoid high traffic areas and avoid the use of aerosols.

Tobacco Smoke

Secondhand smoke has many long term health effects, like asthma, hyperactivity, and respiratory illness.


Tip for prevention: If you smoke, smoke outside to prevent secondhand smoke.


A broad-spectrum antibacterial, found in antibacterial soaps, sanitizers, plastics, and cleaning products.


Tip for prevention: Use old-fashioned soap and water, not antibacterial cleaning products.

Click here to read the feature at iVillage.com.
Click here to print this list. 

About the Children's Environmental Health Center 



Formally established in 2007, the Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center (CEHC) builds on Dr. Philip J. Landrigan's three decades of work in children's environmental health and fifteen years of research in environmental pediatrics at Mount Sinai. CEHC has established itself as a leading source of scientifically credible information on issues related to children's health and the environment. Our mission is to protect children against environmental threats to health. We do this by guiding, supporting, and building the programs of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. 


Support our children's future. 



In 2010, the Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center was designated a Collaborating Centre in Children's Environmental Health by the World Health Organization.