Record Turnout and Support for Mount Sinai's Annual Greening Our Children Event
It was a record turnout at Mount Sinai's sixth annual Greening Our Children luncheon this year, as more than 700 attendees flocked to the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, CT, to show support for Mount Sinai's Children's Environmental Health Center (CEHC). Guests enjoyed the silent auction, a 'green' vendor expo, exquisite organic cuisine, and the chance to meet and hear from honoree actress, author, and founder of The Honest Company, Jessica Alba.
About Mount Sinai's Children's Environmental Health Center and Director Dr. Landrigan
Spearheaded by Philip J. Landrigan, MD, the CEHC was founded in 2007 at Mount Sinai to offer intelligence-based advocacy to improve children's health and protect them from the hazards in the environment. Various legislative changes, such as the removal of lead in paint and gasoline and banning the chemical BPA from baby bottles and cups, have resulted largely from Dr. Landrigan's research, and he has authored more than 500 scientific papers and five books, including the first-ever children's environmental health textbook due out October 2013. At this year's Greening Our Children luncheon, he presented Jessica Alba with the Champion for Children Award, applauding her for founding The Honest Company, which has as its mission 'to give all children a better, safer start.'
"I'm not sure if many of you know this about me, but I suffered from multiple health issues as a kid, including severe asthma, bouts of pneumonia, kidney surgery, appendicitis, and tonsillitis and spent many nights in hospital rooms," Alba revealed in her acceptance speech. "So I was determined to create the safest and healthiest environment for my little one – and not just for my family but for all children."
Her mom suggested she use "the leading laundry detergent that everybody uses," but when Jessica opened it, she began sneezing. Then when she pre-washed some of Honor's clothing with the detergent, she started breaking out in welts. "I called my mom and said, 'There is no way this is safe for babies!' I'm having an allergic reaction and I can't take Benadryl because I'm pregnant.'" That experience led to lots of online research and eventually, her own company.
An Allergic Reaction Inspires The Honest Company
"Not only are there fragrances but also chemicals in babies' laundry detergent and shampoo, but also in our mattresses. I started reading Christopher [Gavigan]'s book [Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home] and told him the information was great, but I didn't know where to shop. The number of chemicals used in cleaning products is nearly 8,000 and very few are regulated. When I looked for eco-friendly products I found many that were eco-friendly toward the environment, but not necessarily for people. So I asked him to help me create a solution, The Honest Company, which we built based on information and high-performance, nontoxic products."
Dr. Landrigan's scientific research "was a major source of information to me for everything," she remarked. "He has truly made a difference in the field of children's environmental health and research and in our everyday lives as consumers, turning groundbreaking work into federal law for the protection of children. Mount Sinai is really paving the way and leading this health movement. That and receiving the Champion for Children Award make me even more passionate about our mission of creating safe and healthy environments for our children. Together I believe we can all make a difference in children's lives."
Supporters Making the Difference in Children's Health and the CEHC
The vast research and efforts of the CEHC greatly depend on philanthropic donations and proactive participation. Fundraisers such as Greening Our Children have helped translate research into real solutions that spearhead meaningful reform and reduce childhood diseases.
"More than 40 percent of the attendees were new this year, as word of Phil's work continues to spread across social media platforms, word of mouth and in the press," noted Eileen Solomon, Director of Special Events at The Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Of course having Jessica Alba as our honoree for her work with The Honest Company was also a major draw, in addition the passion of our donors and sponsors. People are driven by their desire for this information. Their passion, coupled with Phil's work and events to raise awareness about it are helping Mount Sinai's Children's Environmental Health Center to continue the momentum toward a healthier future for our children."
Another stride toward this goal was the establishment of the Laboratory for Molecular Environmental Chemistry at Mount Sinai, which was announced at the Greening Our Children luncheon. Researchers at this new state-of-the-art, 3,000 square-foot facility will be investigating the causes of childhood diseases, namely autism, childhood asthma, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, as well as the timing and measuring of chemical exposures.
"This Laboratory was designed to improve, enhance, expand and accelerate the CEHC's research," Dr. Landrigan explained. "The next frontier for CEHC is analyzing samples to assess the timing of chemical exposure, as children's health is not just affected by the dose of the chemicals, but also how long a child has been exposed to them. Our goal is to translate this information about how toxins affect the human body into new personalized techniques to help combat and ultimately prevent them."
Taking action does not necessarily require a donation. For those who wish to explore more about the CEHC, please visit www.cehcenter.org. If you would like to support the Safe Chemicals Act, sponsored by Senators Frank Lautenberg and Kristen Gillibrand, learn more and write your Senators at http://www.saferchemicals.org/safe-chemicals-act/.