What’s your passion? Is it cooking? Tennis? When I was a young mother, my obsession was avoiding all things toxic. In 2007, I had three young children whose lives depended on me, and having grown up in a crunchy granola, health food household, I was already an avid non-toxic living advocate.
Just imagine how star struck you’d feel meeting Martha Stewart or Serena Williams. That’s how I felt when I met Dr. Philip Landrigan, a Harvard educated pediatrician and one of the world’s leading advocates of children’s health. At the time, he was the chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, and he was looking to raise money to research why more children were being diagnosed with autism, pediatric cancers, birth defects and asthma. At the time, I didn’t realize all of the amazing work he’d done to protect my kids- ALL kids. Lead free gasoline and paint? You have Dr. Landrigan to thank for that. Less pesticides sprayed on fruits and vegetables you buy at the grocery store? Thank you Dr. Landrigan! And yet there was so much more to learn, about chemicals disrupting hormones, cancer causing ingredients and other substances causing children to contract diseases practically unheard of when I was growing up.
After agreeing to work with Dr. Landrigan, I knew I had accepted a big responsibility. But I also knew that I was up to the task. (Passion can fuel you to do super human things!) Dr. Landrigan appointed me vice chairman of his board and from 2007 to 2014, with the help of a lot of friends, we founded a board, started the Greening Our Children fundraiser and raised millions of dollars to finance “venture research” at Mount Sinai and the Senator Frank Lautenberg Environmental Health Sciences Laboratory.
My story is different than most environmental health bloggers because my green light bulb came on not when my child had an allergic reaction to diaper wipes or was diagnosed with ADHD. It came when I met Dr. Landrigan and witnessed groundbreaking science up close. My last ten years have been like pressing your nose against the window to the most amazing children’s environmental health science lab in the world. I’ve listened to Linda Birnbaum, the head of the NIEHS, complain about toxic butter wrappers, had dinner with Frederick vom Saal, the most outspoken anti BPA scientist in the world and been privy to some of the most mind blowing conversations about the harm everyday ingredients can cause. And now I, as a mother of three children and board member of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center since 2007, a want to share this information with you. I hope you’ll join me.