Research Scientist

Research at the Center


The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® (DIEHC) is one of the first hospital-based programs whose mission is to identify, control, and ultimately prevent toxic exposures in the environment that threaten our children's health. Our research explores everyday environmental exposures with the goal of improving public health, one child at a time. The DIEHC partners with departments across the hospital and other research institutions nationally to design innovative research in environmental health and translate findings into real-world solutions through community outreach, website resources, and clinical education.

Knowledge is power, and innovative research can help us better understand how toxins impact our children's small, developing bodies. That’s why The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® is dedicated to studying the major environmental risks threatening our children’s well-being: chemicals such as BPA, phthalates, and triclosan found in common cleaning and personal care products, heavy metals in water, air, soil, fertilizer, vaccines, food and other products which are linked to developmental delays and autism, and endocrine-disruptors used in materials kids are exposed to every day.

As we continue our mission of protecting children’s health, integrative pediatrician Dr. Rosen and I write about the changes in children's health over the last decade, and what we can do about it. We can each change one thing, and we hope this article in  EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing  will inspire you to find one positive change to make for our kids' health.

Completed Studies

Environmental Chemicals in Fetal Cord Blood and Maternal Urine: A Pilot Study.


The use of Bisphenol A (BPA) has widely been replaced in consumer products by analogs BPB, BPE, BPF, BPS, and BPAF. Recent studies have linked these substitutes to similar adverse health outcomes as BPA, including disruption of endocrine pathways in animal and human studies. We designed a novel MS method, developed specifically for this study, to capture the most relevant BPA alternatives, BPB, BPE, BPF, BPS, BPAF and 4-NP in human blood and urine to quantify potential in utero exposures.

Environmental Chemicals and Estrogen Metabolites in Children: A Pilot Study


The prevalence of pediatric hormonal disorders and hormonally-sensitive cancers are rising. Chemicals including bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, parabens, 4-nonylphenol (4NP) and triclosan have been linked to disruption of endocrine pathways and altered hormonal status in both animal and human studies. Additionally, changes in estrogen metabolism have been associated with pediatric endocrine disorders and linked to estrogen-dependent cancers. The main objective of the study was to measure the presence of these environmental chemicals in prepubescent children and assess the relationship between chemical metabolites and estrogen metabolism.

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Safety and Efficacy of a 100% Dimethicone Pediculocide in School-age Children


Head lice most commonly affect children, ages 3 to 11. Concerns exist about the safety and efficacy of pesticide-based treatments. Published studies suggest dimethicone is a potentially safe and effective non-toxic treatment, but have not evaluated 100 % dimethicone in a pediatric population. The objectives were to evaluate the efficacy and safety of 100 % dimethicone for the treatment of head lice in children, monitored by school nurses. 

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Mapping Contaminants Associated with Autism: A Public Health Pilot in New Jersey 


The rise in reported prevalence rates of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is a national concern that continues to grow at a record pace. New Jersey has the highest prevalence rate of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) among states surveyed, with approximately 1 in 45 children diagnosed. The pilot study focused on toxins potentially linked to autism: arsenic, lead, manganese, mercury, organophosphate pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride. In northern NJ there were approximately 4600 Known Contaminated Sites (KCSNJ) where these toxins were detected. A total of 269,790 sample detections were identified. Our objective was to identify and map these sites, and identify methods by which more robust contaminant data could be collected and analyzed. This study resulted in eight original maps showing sample detections. These maps will aid researchers and public health advocates in future analyses exploring links between autism and these toxins. Concentrations of multiple toxins associated with ASDs were most dense near urban industrial or mixed residential/industrial areas, though no conclusions can be made regarding association or causality between the sample detections and autism. Based in part on this study, NJDEP has made and will continue to make improvements to contaminant data collection systems. 




Current Studies

Additional Publications

Improving Public Databases for Advancing Environmental Health

State-level environmental laws designed to monitor emissions from factories, businesses and other institutions are critical to protecting public health. The data collected as part of this process requires a highly-structured system from accurate emissions measurements and disclosure to collection by field staff who then submit data to regulatory agencies.

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