Girl Planting seeds
Deirdre Imus at Lienhard School of Nursing, Pace University:
d_imus_pace_podiumthumb64Hackensack, NJ, October 24, 2006 – Addressing more than 250 students and faculty at Pace University’s Lienhard School of Nursing, children’s environmental health advocate Deirdre Imus said nurses can play an important role in educating patients and families about healthy choices in diet, lifestyle and products that can minimize risks for cancer and other diseases.
The World Health Organization calls cancer a devastating disease -- but could be largely preventable, Ms. Imus noted. “So there needs to be a consciousness in the medical community that we need to reduce our exposure to environmental toxins. That should be a fundamental bedrock in medicine. And one of the best communicators on this is the nurses because they spend so much time with patients and family.”
Ms. Imus is President and founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology® at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC), a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation in Hackensack, N.J. The Environmental Center represents one of the first hospital-based programs whose specific mission is to identify, control and ultimately prevent exposures to environmental factors that may cause adult, and especially pediatric cancer, as well as other health problems with our children.
Ms. Imus said she has always been interested in the root causes of all childhood diseases and illnesses. “Prevention needs to be practiced. Do you realize that there are more than 80,000 chemicals in use in this country, but fewer than two percent have been checked by the EPA for their safety?”
Ms. Imus recounted some sobering trends:
    Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children.
    (Source: American Cancer Society)
    One in every 166 children in this country is diagnosed with autism.
    (Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, CDC)
    One of every six kids will be diagnosed with a learning disability. (Source: American Council on Science and Health)
    An appalling diet has contributed to an epidemic in childhood obesity, impacting about one in seven children over the age of six. (Sources: National Institutes of Health, Institute of Medicine)
    About one in 400 to 500 children in the U.S. have type 1 diabetes. And type II diabetes, once associated only with adults, is now on the rise among children. (Source: CDC)
    Respiratory problems such as asthma are the leading cause of absenteeism in schools. (Source: American College of Emergency Physicians).
    The rate of premature births increased 21 percent between 1981 and 2001. (Source: March of Dimes)
    The third most common chronic disease in childhood is rheumatoid arthritis. (Source: Dr. Yukiko Kimura, Hackensack University Medical Center)
Healthy Choices
Ms. Imus noted that many cleaning products and pest control products used in homes, schools and the workplace commonly contain carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens, and endocrine disruptors.
“Why would I unnecessarily expose my child to toxic cleaning agents at home or in school when I know they can be extremely harmful and there are healthy choices available,” she said.
In 2000, Ms. Imus researched the hazards of ingredients in common cleaning chemicals and brought the information to the attention of HUMC president and CEO John Ferguson who supported her efforts. That decision launched The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology® as well as the award-winning Greening the Cleaning® program, which now spans both institutional and household products.
Greening the Cleaning® means eliminating to the greatest extent possible, all cleaning agents containing hazardous ingredients and replacing them with naturally-derived ingredients with the least level of toxicity.
The only product not changed in a medical setting is germicidals because natural substitutes are not yet available to meet TB- and other germ-killing requirements.
As a result of converting to the Greening the Cleaning® program, HUMC created an indoor environment believed to be safer for patients, staff and visitors. It eliminated and reduced burns and respiratory problems associated with cleaning chemicals, and yielded a 15 percent savings for the hospital.
For the institutional line of Greening the Cleaning® products, 100% of all profits from sales go to education and research to identify, control and ultimately prevent exposures to environmental factors that may cause adult, and especially pediatric cancer, as well as other health problems with our children. For the retail line, 100% of all after tax profits from sales go to The Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer.
The Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer
Ms. Imus is also co-founder and co-director, with husband Don Imus, of The Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer, a 4,000 acre working cattle ranch in northern New Mexico which provides the experience of the American cowboy to children suffering from cancer and various blood diseases, and to children who have lost a brother or sister to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). More than 700 children have experienced the program since the ranch was founded in 1998.
Deirdre Imus and her husband work with children at the ranch all summer, “treating sick kids just like any normal kid – because they are, but they need to be treated that way, too,” she said. Children feed the animals before breakfast, learn to ride a horse and herd cattle. They not only gain a renewed sense of self-esteem, but a fresh approach to food, she said. The ranch is completely vegetarian, whole food, and totally organic.
“This all only makes common sense to promote a whole food, organic, vegan diet because we know food can either make us sick or contribute to our well-being and healing,” she said.
Noting that “Kids and cowboys have the pickiest palates on the planet,” Ms. Imus said, “Mothers just can’t believe that we got their child to eat all these vegetables.” The Imus’ teach their young ranch hands where food comes from and how it’s grown (organically), and the children pick their own vegetables for every meal which is specially prepared. To help parents meet the challenge, Ms. Imus authored a best-selling cookbook, The Imus Ranch: Cooking for Kids and Cowboys.
[1] Environmental Working Group, “Body Burden: The Pollution in People” (Summary page of six studies conducted since 2000).
[2] Sharp, Renee and Sean Gray, Jane Houlihan, “Across Generations: Mothers and Daughters, the industrial chemical pollution mothers and daughters share and inherit,” The Environmental Working Group, (May 2006).
close (X)