Since the Center’s inception in 1998, we have conducted scientific research indicating that various environmental pollutants are critical risk factors for reduced fetal development; chromosomal abnormalities and genetic damage; reduced IQ scores and developmental delays including behavioral and attention disorders; obesity; and asthma.
Some environmental exposures studied at the Center include:
- Lead, mercury, mold, pest allergens, and second hand smoke
- Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, most commonly found in plastics
- Chlorpyrifos, a former household and current agricultural pesticide
- Pyrethroids, a replacement insecticide used after chlorpyrifos was banned from residential use
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a flame-retardant compound used in textiles, electronics, and office and home furnishings
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a byproduct of the combustion of fossil fuel and other organic material
The Center is running prospective research studies of pregnant women and their children in the United States, Europe, and Asia. In New York City, studies are conducted in low-income neighborhoods in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx that are disproportionately burdened by pollution, and also near the World Trade Center site. The Center also conducts studies in Krakow, Poland and in China where coal-burning is prevalent.
The Center’s team of more than three dozen highly trained scientific investigators in fields including environmental exposure assessment, perinatal epidemiology, pediatric oncology, pulmonology, and biostatistics. This team is studying the effects of early-life exposures to environmental pollutants to identify those most harmful and in need of regulation or stricter enforcement.
Our researchers measure prenatal and postnatal pollution levels in the air women breathe during pregnancy, in home air samples after childbirth, and in biomarkers in blood, urine, and babies’ first fecal material. (Biomarkers are changes in molecular composition, structure, or function indicating exposure to, susceptibility to, or early damage from pollutants.) We study these measurements, looking for the presence of biological changes that can disrupt children’s healthy growth and development and make children more susceptible to disease. Geographic Information Systems model the health effects of major community-wide sources of pollution. Health outcomes are measured using clinical exams, standard developmental assessments, maternal interviews, and home environment assessments.