Raising Healthy Children

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

Our Mission: Protecting Children Against Environmental Threats to Health

Dr. Landrigan

Dr. Philip J. Landrigan

Director, CEHC

In This Issue
CEHC Research Generates Over $5.8 Million
New Rules for Safe Sunscreens
CEHC's Guide to Sunscreens
Dr. Landrigan Hosts Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
About the CEHC

Dear Friends,


The summer months are often times for vacation and relaxation; however, we want to make sure that you stay updated on the activities of our Center.  From our guide to sunscreen to our new research projects, the July issue of Raising Healthy Children outlines some of the summer's hottest topics in children's environmental health. 


In this issue: 

  • We launch our newest pilot projects - 13 groundbreaking research projects that investigate the environmental causes of childhood disease.  
  • We also announce that our past pilot projects have generated $1.6 million in federal grants this year, totaling to $5.8 million over the next five years.
  • We summarize the FDA's new regulations on sunscreen, which require product labels to provide better safety information, and we outline simple tips to choose better sunscreens.
  • We highlight a ribbon-cutting ceremony that I moderated at Mount Sinai.  At this event, I was joined by public officials like Mayor Bloomberg and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sebelius to celebrate the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
On behalf of everyone at CEHC, I wish you a happy and healthy summer.



Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc

Director, Children's Environmental Health Center

Mount Sinai School of Medicine


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CEHC Launches 13 New Pilot Projects 


Grants from the National Institutes of Health generate $1.6 million  

in research dollars for this year; $5.8 for the next five years.


Each year, proceeds raised at Mount Sinai Greening Our Children, our annual benefit luncheon, support CEHC's signature pilot projects - a "venture capital" approach to research in children's environmental health. These research projects investigate the environmental causes of childhood disease, including asthma, autism, learning disabilities, childhood cancer, and obesity. 


Thanks to a tremendously successful event, CEHC was able to launch 13 new pilot projects - making this our most competitive cycle to date. As always, each project was selected through a rigorous, peer-reviewed process. In particular, projects are considered for their ability to generate major grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and major foundations.


Click here to preview the projects we are funding.


We are also excited to announce that past year's pilot projects have generated a return on investment of $1.6 million for 2011. This totals to over $5.8 million in grants from the NIH and major foundations over the next five years.


roi 2011-2015
Click here to enlarge the graph.

FDA Announces New Rules for  

Safe Sunscreen Products


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enact new standards to ensure that products meet modern safety standards.


On June 14, the FDA announced new rules and regulations for sunscreen, ensuring that today's over-the-counter products meet modern safety standards.  


These rules, which will become effective in one year, not only dispel misleading labels like "broad spectrum" and "waterproof," but they will also improve the quality of UVA and UVB ray protection found in sunscreen.


What do these labels mean?  


The label "broad spectrum" has been used to describe sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB rays in any degree. However, the FDA's new rules require that sunscreens labeled as "broad spectrum" must meet certain requirements. The term "broad spectrum" can only be used if the sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays in equal magnitude.


While the labels "waterproof" and "sweatproof" give the impression that sunscreen is still effective after water exposure, this has been found to be false. The new FDA rules maintain that sunscreens can only report in minutes how long the sunscreen is waterproof, depending on lab tests.


Finally, the SPF value specifies the level of sunburn provided by the sunscreen product. Although labels may suggest otherwise, SPF ratings only protect against UVB rays. According to the new FDA laws, sunscreens that pass the broad spectrum test must also show that they protect against UVA rays. A label that reads "Broad Spectrum SPF" will indicate a higher level of protection from both UVA and UVB radiation.


What other ways do the new FDA laws change the way sunscreen products are labeled?


In addition to redefining terms like broad spectrum and SPF, new FDA laws require that only sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or greater can declare that they aid in the prevention of sunburn or reduce the risks of skin cancer. Products with an SPF below 15 must have a warning label stating that they have not been shown to prevent skin cancer or premature aging.


Learn more by visiting the FDA's Q&A on 

understanding these new regulations. 

CEHC's Guide to Sunscreens 


How do CEHC pediatricians choose sunscreen?

Our team recommends following these steps:


Step 1. Buy mineral based sunscreens sold as creams. Avoid those sold as powders or sprays, as they pose inhalation risks for children.  


Step 2. Only choose "broad spectrum" sunscreens.  


Step 3. Buy sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Avoid SPFs higher than 50, which has been shown to offer little benefit at the cost of increased chemical exposure.


Step 4. The least harmful active ingredients in sunscreen include titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and avobenzone. To choose the safest products, use the following chart or visit the Environmental Working Group's 2011 Sunscreen Guide:



Safer Options







Titanium Dioxide


Zinc Oxide


Mexoryl SX


Tinosorb S and M


Oxybenzone (Most commonly used active ingredient)

Why? Because oxybenzone can be absorbed by the skin, it poses potential risks to human health, including hormone disruption and allergic reactions. 


Vitamin A: Retinol, Retinyl Palmiate

Why? In the presence of sunlight, Retinyl Palmiate may speed the development of skin cancers and lesions; it forms free radicals that cause damage to DNA.


Methylbenzlidene camphor

Why? Shows a strong correlation with hormone disruption, behavioral changes, and thyroid function. 


Padimate O

Why? Padimate O can cause DNA damage and produce an allergic response in some.



Why? This chemical has been linked to hormone disruption, including thyroid disorder.


Benzylidene camphor

Why? It has been show to disrupt hormone function.


Added fragrances and insect repellents

Why? Since many sunscreens use penetration enhancers, pesticides found in bug repellent may be more easily absorbed into the skin, which can be dangerous.


Source: Environmental Working Group, Sunscreens 2011.

Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc (fourth from right) joins political leaders at ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Mount Sinai Hosts Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for
Mayor Bloomberg and Other Political Leaders

CEHC Director Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc served as master of ceremony at event celebrating the landmark Zadroga Act.  

On July 1, the Mount Sinai Medical Center hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Serving as master of ceremony, Dr. Landrigan was joined by political leaders like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and U.S. Representative Charles B. Rangel (D-NY). 

The Zadroga Act, which went into effect on the same day, provides $4.3 billion in federal funding for the treatment of those affected by the 9/11 attacks. For the first time, this act guarantees healthcare coverage for these men and women.

As an expert in environmental and occupational medicine, Dr. Landrigan has led many of Mount Sinai's endeavors to protect the health of 9/11 responders. He currently serves as Principal Investigator of the Mount Sinai WTC Program's Data and Coordination Center, which collects data to study the effects of toxic exposures.

"Through the WTC Monitoring program at Mount Sinai, we have met so many men and women who have given so much of themselves, and their health, for this country," said Dr. Landrigan. "Our studies have shown that long-term monitoring and treatment are absolutely critical to improving the quality of our patients' lives."

Learn more about the Zagroda Act and the event in Fox New York, CBS New York, and New York 1.



Formally established in 2007, the Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center 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 Preventive Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Current projects include:

The Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU), our clinical arm which cares for children with toxic environmental exposures.


Pilot Project Research Grants Program, CEHC's signature program, providing seed grants for Mount Sinai-wide initiatives into the environmental causes of learning disabilities (including autism), asthma, obesity/diabetes, and childhood cancer.

The Endocrine Disruptors Project, studying the effects of endocrine disruptors on neurodevelopmental disorders, obesity, early puberty, and other alterations in the proper functioning of the endocrine system.


The Autism and Learning Disabilities Discovery and Prevention Project, a multi-disciplinary, inter-departmental study recently launched to explore the link between neurodevelopmental disorders and environmental exposures.

Growing Up Healthy in East Harlem, tracing the effects of pollutant exposures on children's health in the inner city.
To make a donation to support CEHC's work, please send a check payable to:


The Mount Sinai School of Medicine

 ATTN: Children's Environmental Health Center


Mail to:
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Mount Sinai Development, Box 1049
One Gustave L. Levy Place
New York, NY 10029

Telephone: 212-824-7125
Mail: One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1057, New York, NY 10029 

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