Research Scientist

Deirdre Imus: Switch to Greener, Healthier Life Worth the Effort

Healthier Eating Habits Make
One Good Place to Start

Deirdre Imus, president and founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology® at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) signs a copy of her cookbook, Cooking for Kids & Cowboys, for Constance Niclas, CMF, BS, president of The Women’s Club of Upper Saddle River at the club’s annual luncheon, at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.

Hackensack, NJ – Many people are so overwhelmed at the effort it can take to lead a greener, healthier life, they hesitate to begin. Deirdre Imus encourages women to begin with a single change. “There are no small changes. One simple change ends up being a significant one for the entire family,” she said.

“Commit to just one change such as replacing a toxic cleaning agent with a non-toxic one. Or choose an organic piece of fruit instead of one grown conventionally that was sprayed with toxic pesticides. Single changes will always give bigger effects down the road -- and they won’t overwhelm you to start.”

Deirdre 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. 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.

She made the comments as the keynote speaker at The Women’s Club of Upper Saddle River’s annual luncheon, at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J. A national leader in children’s environmental health issues and known for teaching by example, Ms. Imus offered a thought-provoking discussion of her environmental efforts to reduce toxic exposures in homes and public settings. Noting that environmental health hazards are hard to avoid, she emphasized that people have to take responsibility starting with their own lives.

Ms. Imus pointed out that according to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of cancers today come from environmental factors. “I recommend living in an environmentally sustainable way, and taking it at a pace you can handle,” she said.

Greening The Cleaning®

The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center is home to the award-winning Greening The Cleaning® program, one of the Center’s most successful educational outreach programs to date. Greening The Cleaning® means eliminating to the greatest extent possible all cleaning agents containing hazardous ingredients and replacing them with environmentally responsible products, where available. More than 150 healthcare facilities, government authorities, businesses and schools have implemented the program since 2001, all with direct savings in cleaning costs.

One hundred percent of all profits from sales of the institutional products go to education and research to identify, control and ultimately prevent environmental factors that may cause pediatric cancer and other health problems with our children.

The Environmental Center also helped introduce a household line of Greening The Cleaning® products, now available at supermarkets and mass merchandisers nationwide and through Imus Ranch Foods ( One hundred percent of after-tax profits go to the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer.

In addition to her role at the Environmental Center, Ms. Imus is also co-founder and co-director 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 the siblings of children who have been victims of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Every year Deirdre, her husband and son live and work with the children at the Ranch all summer long and in the spring.

Most Precious Resource

Calling children “our most precious resource,” Mrs. Imus says greater awareness is needed to help prevent environmental factors that may cause cancer and other health problems such as ADD, autism, obesity, diabetes, asthma, and learning disabilities.

Constance Niclas, CMF, BS, president of the club and boutique supervisor of The Ellen H. Lazar Shoppe On Fifth, and Judy Morton, first vice president, presented a donation to Mrs. Imus for The Environmental Center. “We are delighted that Mrs. Imus could share her philosophies with us today, as her sense of responsibility for the health of our children and our families is genuine,” said Mrs. Niclas.

Mrs. Imus responded, “I hope each one of you leave with a feeling you can do something to make your life healthier.”

Recent efforts by Deirdre Imus and her organization have helped usher in “Green Cleaning” Executive Orders from governors of three states (NY, NJ, and CT). These government initiatives direct state agencies and authorities to begin using less toxic cleaning products to help reduce the exposure to toxic ingredients and improve indoor air quality. Ms. Imus is now working with the State to help mandate the phase-out of toxic cleaning products from New Jersey schools, and move to least toxic alternatives.

The medical center and The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center are recent recipients of an Environmental Quality Award by the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office for outstanding efforts to protect the environment.

The EPA award highlighted HUMC’s recently opened Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, one of America’s first environmentally responsible and sustainable healthcare facilities, and named one of America’s Top 10 Green Hospitals by The Green Guide. The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center advised HUMC on environmentally sustainable materials and processes for the new pavilion, to help create a total healing environment, from the air handling system to patient pajamas.

Hackensack University Medical Center is a nationally recognized healthcare organization offering patients the most comprehensive services, state-of-the art technologies, and facilities. A leader in providing the highest quality patient-centered care, Hackensack University Medical Center has been recognized for performance excellence encompassing the entire spectrum of hospital quality and service issues.

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