Research Scientist

Study Conducted by The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® At HackensackUMC Finds Levels of Hormone Disrupting Chemicals in Children


A recent study conducted by The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at Hackensack University Medical Center revealed detectable levels of various environmental chemicals in children. In a study of 50 healthy, prepubescent patients, 100 percent of subjects had detectable levels of at least five endocrine disrupting environmental chemicals in their urine. Almost three-quarters of these children had detectable levels of eight or more chemicals. The study was published in BMC Endocrine Disorders December 2015 edition.


Endocrine disrupting chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, parabens, 4-nonylphenol (4NP), and triclosan (TCS) pervade our lives. They are present in plastic products such as baby bottles and food containers; in antibacterial hand soaps, toothpaste, and household cleaning supplies; and in personal care products and cosmetics.  Previous research has linked these chemicals to changes in estrogen metabolism associated with pediatric endocrine disorders and estrogen-dependent cancers.

“Science continues to confirm these chemicals are everywhere,” said Deirdre Imus, president and founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®. “Now we know they are also inside our children’s bodies.  “What we need to focus on is how we can reduce these exposures so that we can protect our children’s health.”

In the United States, cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death among children and adults. Cancer in children has steadily increased since 1975, specifically testicular and ovarian germ cell tumors. Additionally, studies have concluded the incidence of precocious puberty is increasing, especially in girls. Both of these developments have been linked to environmental factors, including exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Of particular note is that nearly one-third of the children in the study had measurable levels of 4NP in their urine, a novel finding that suggests an urgent need for more research regarding the presence and impact of this chemical. 4NP is used in the production of cleaning products, plastics, rubber and personal care products, including hair products. This is the first known published study of 4NP in American children.

While no associations were found between the chemicals tested and estrogen metabolites, the presence of multiple chemicals in a majority of children’s urine is cause for major concern – especially considering the increasing prevalence of pediatric hormonal disorders.

“The results of this small but innovative study underscore the need for further research to understand how exactly chemicals impact children, both before and after they go through puberty,” said pediatrician Dr. Lawrence Rosen, primary investigator for the study and founder of The Whole Child Center.

 “We are thankful to the families who participated in this research on endocrine disruptors in our everyday environment,” said the study’s lead author, Erin S. Ihde, MA, CCRP. “Protecting children’s health is central to the mission at the Center.”  


About The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at HackensackUMC       

The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at Hackensack University Medical Center  represents one of the first hospital-based programs whose specific mission is to identify, control and ultimately prevent toxic exposures in the environment that threaten our children's health. HackensackUMC began its journey towards environmental health and sustainability more than a decade ago with the help of Deirdre Imus, beginning with the Greening The Cleaning® program in 2001, which promotes the use of  safer cleaning products and in 2005 with the design and construction of one of the first green hospitals in the country, the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which was named one of America’s Top Green Hospitals by National Geographic’s The Green Guide.   In 2015, through the efforts of the Environmental Health Center, HackensackUMC earned Practice Greenhealth’s highest honor as a 2015 Environmental Excellence Award winner, earning recognition for a second year in a row, as one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country.

About Hackensack University Medical Center

HackensackUMC, a 775- bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is the flagship hospital of Hackensack University Health Network, one of the largest health networks in the state comprised of 1,717 beds, more than 10,000 team members and 3,300 credentialed physicians. HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015-16 Best Hospital rankings - maintaining its place atop the NJ rankings since the rating system was introduced. It was also named one of the top four New York Metro Area hospitals. HackensackUMC is the only hospital in New Jersey, New York and New England to be named one of Healthgrades America's 50 Best Hospitals™ nine consecutive years, and receive the Healthgrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence™ 13 years in a row. The medical center is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 24 Gold Seals of Approval™ by The Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. HackensackUMC has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® and listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and is Official Medical Services Provider to The Barclays PGA Golf Tournament. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events.

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