Finger Lakes Children’s Environmental Health Center

Environmental health hazards include physical hazards and toxic substances that may enter our bodies through air, food, or water. They can have many negative effects on physical, mental, and emotional health. These effects can include:

  • Physical illness
  • Long lasting injury
  • Mental damage
  • Fertility problems
  • Miscarriages
  • Birth defects
  • Cancer

Some environmental health hazards can cause effects soon after exposure, while others may not cause effects for many years. Being aware of these hazards and taking action to avoid them contributes to a lifetime of well-being.

The Finger Lakes Children’s Environmental Health Center (FLCEHC) center serves all who are considering pregnancy or who are already pregnant or breastfeeding. Environmental exposures affect the mother and also can pass from her body to the baby through the placenta or breast milk These exposures can affect the baby’s growth and development. Breastfeeding is beneficial for both mother and baby so reducing exposure to environmental contaminants is important for long term health.

We serve children because they are at high risk for the effects of environmental exposure. Their brains and bodies are still developing, their hand-to-mouth behavior increases likelihood of ingesting toxic substances,and they spend more time close to the ground where hazards are often found. Children can be exposed in the home, playing outside, or in other buildings like daycare or school.

Featured Partner: Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Inc. (HBCAC)

Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Inc. (HBCAC) is the lead community partner for the New York State Children’s Environmental Health Centers. HBCAC has been involved with the Centers since their inception in 2004, and has been in existence since 1993. HBCAC’s mission is to focus on environmental health education for children and families through our Prevention Is The Cure™ campaign. We have created, sponsored and collaborated on efforts to develop and disseminate science-based, age-appropriate educational materials in various formats to diverse populations. Through our efforts, we connect with various stakeholders across Long Island to become engaged in encouraging healthy lifestyles. Additionally, we work to make legislative change, for example in securing “Toxin Free Toddlers and Babies Act” making Suffolk County the first in the nation to ban the sales of baby bottles and sippy cups containing Bisphenol A (BPA), and in passing the Safer Sales Slip Act banning Bisphenol A (BPA) from thermal receipt papers.




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Building New York State Centers of Excellence in Children’s Environmental Health: A Replicable Model in a Time of Uncertainty

An article was just published by NYSCECEH via the Network by the American Public Health Association.


Public health programs may be seriously affected in periods of federal retrenchment. During these times, state-based strategies provide an alternate pathway for advancing public health.

A 12-year campaign to secure state support for a network of Centers of Excellence in Children’s Environmental Health (CEH) promoting health of children across New York State is described. It was driven by rising rates of asthma, birth defects, developmental disorders, and other noncommunicable diseases in children; growing evidence associating hazardous environmental exposures with these conditions; and recognition that federal resources in CEH are insufficient.

Critical campaign elements were (1) formation of a statewide coalition of academic health centers, health care providers, public health officials, community advocates, and other stakeholders; (2) bipartisan collaborations with legislative champions and government leaders; (3) assessment of the burden of developmental disorders and noncommunicable diseases associated with environmental exposures among children; (4) maps documenting the presence of environmental hazards in every county statewide; (5) iterative charting of a changing political landscape; and (6) persistence. The 2017 award of a 5-year, $10 million contract to establish Centers of Excellence in CEH demonstrates the value of this statewide strategy. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print November 29, 2018: e1–e5. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2018.304742)

Featured Profile: Dr. Melinda Cameron

Profile of Dr. Cameron:

Dr. Cameron is a general pediatrician and  has treated and provided case management for children with elevated lead levels in the Western New York region for over 30 years.  She is the Medical Director of the WNY Lead Poisoning Prevention Center, Buffalo Office and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Jacobs School of Medicine in Buffalo.  Her interests include public and refugee health, outpatient urban pediatric care at a FQHC, community based care including Medical Directorship of Buffalo’s school-based health clinics and clinical preceptorship of medical students.

Huntington High School Seniors Present at National Conference

Sara Frawley and Sam Roberts are two of the top teenagers in the country. The Huntington High School duo impresses everyone they cross paths with, especially the medical professionals who have helped guide them through high level research. The pair presented their work last week at the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program’s two day conference in Washington, DC.

Veterans of the high school’s science research program, Ms. Frawley and Mr. Roberts have been interning with the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, which arranged an opportunity for them to complete research in Dr. Jia Chen’s lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.

“They were all extremely welcoming and wonderful to learn from,” said Ms. Frawley about the lab experience at Mount Sinai. “Our research focused on the effects of glyphosate based herbicides, which are commonly used throughout the United States on gene expression and also accessing knowledge and concern over pesticide use in Suffolk and across Long Island. We found that there are possibly harmful effects of this common herbicide and that there is also a need for further education in our community.”

Full Article…

Hudson Valley – Not One More Life Event

CEHCHV hosted an exciting event this weekend, our annual Not One More Life Event (NOML) that took place at First United Methodist Church in Mt. Vernon, NY. The event is an educational program formed from a partnership with an Atlanta-based non-for-profit with the goal of mitigating the impact of asthma and adverse respiratory conditions related to the environment on the health of minorities.

On Sunday, October 7, 2018 our group provided education to a local faith-based organization and conducted educational workshops and clinical screening for asthma and co-morbid conditions. We had a great turn out.



Highlights Across NYS Children’s Environmental Health Centers!


New York State Centers of Excellence in Children’s Environmental Health at Albany

Albany Center Team Members (Left to Right): Michelle Spina, Eunice Gordon, and Dr. Stephen de Waal Malefyt attending an AQIC training event.



Western New York Children’s Environmental Health Center

Dr. Cameron & Lissette Palestro (and co-puppeteers Dr. Wendy Ring & Mike Shapiro) met with CEHC members during the climate & health puppet tour.



Long Island Children’s Environmental Health Centers

Left to Right: Dr. Cappy Collins, Tonie McKenzie, Karen Miller, Barina Barauna, Connie Furey, Carmen Pinto, and Melanie Gabrell.


Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition (HBCAC) Team Members Karen Miller and Melanie Gabrell conducting their first educational session with Madonna Heights.



NYS Children’s Environmental Health Center

Drs. Phil Landrigan and Maida Galvez met with Assembly Member Richard Gottfried regarding NYS Proclamation for Children Environmental Health (CEH) Day.
Dr. Perry Sheffield biking along the Erie Canal Trail
and teaching families across NYS about ways to protect their health from climate pollution.
NYS Children’s Environmental Health Center’s members Drs. Galvez, Sheffield and Zajac jointly presented at the PEHSU National Meeting on the NYS Children’s Environmental Health Center.



The Finger Lakes Children’s Environmental Health Center (FLCEHC)

FLCEHC Booth with Jennifer Becker, MPH (Outreach Coordinator) at the Elmira Community Baby Shower, Elmira, New York (Chemung County).


Volunteers of America Children’s Center, Rochester, New York J. Becker and A. Caravlho (Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning)


Dr. Travis Hobart conducting a SUNY Update Multi-Speciality Pediatric ECHO session on Mercury Exposure

Internship Testimonial: Desmond Green MD, MPH Student

“My name is Desmond Green and I am currently a rising second year MD/MPH dual degree candidate at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. My experience at the NYS Children’s Environmental Health Center and Region 2 PEHSU was more than I could have ever hoped for. For the first time since starting medical school I feel like I started to see how as a future pediatrician, I could use my voice to enact real change in the community I serve. Moreover, having worked with many mentors who have both their MD and MPH, I saw how one can synthesize both their public health and medical training to better service their population. The tangible tools I have gained at the Center and the PEHSU will stay with me for the rest of my time as a practicing physician and for that I am eternally grateful.

The internship offered me a plethora of unique and varied opportunities to see not only how public health can inform our society, but also the process it takes to reach said point. Most importantly, the team members of the Center/PEHSU reminded me why I went into medicine in the first place and the importance of surrounding yourself with people who care. I have never been apart of such a loving and accepting team, to each other and to me; I felt both valued and heard. Seeing how tirelessly everyone else worked to make a difference, made me want to do the same and made me excited to wake up and go into the office everyday. Interning at Mount Sinai was an invaluable experience and I highly recommend it to those that have even a slight interest in pediatric environmental health. In moving forward, I hope to bring the tools and knowledge I’ve gained to start similar initiatives in Miami.”

First Annual Meeting of the NYS Network

On April 26-27, 2018, the NYS Children’s Environmental Health Centers network held their first annual meeting.


On April 26-27, 2018, Maida Galvez, MD, MPH (Region 2 PEHSU Director), Perry Sheffield MD, MPH (Region 2 PEHSU Deputy Director), Lauren Zajac, MD, MPH (Region 2 PEHSU Environmental Pediatrician), and staff (Marisela Bolanos- Region 2 PEHSU Program Coordinator; Michael Ejiogu, MPH- NYSCOE Program Coordinator) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai hosted the first annual Planning Meeting for the NYS Centers of Excellence in Children’s Environmental Health. The meeting was attended by representatives from NYS and NYC Agencies, community partner organizations, and Network Partner Centers from across the State (Long Island, Westchester County, the Capitol Area (Albany), Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo). The key objective of the meeting was to provide opportunities to network, build relationships, and raise the profile of the Centers of Excellence in Children’s Environmental Health. The collaborative meeting had a total of 60 attendees with Keynote speakers (Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, FAAP, Sophie Balk, MD, and Robert Amler, MD, MBA, Michael T. Hatcher, DrPH, MPH). Collaboration was facilitated through environmental health messaging activities and work planning sessions to discuss goals, challenges, and collaborative processes/strategies to achieve outcomes. Through this planning meeting, NYSCEHC is optimistic that participants will cultivate new relationships to protect and improve the environmental health of New York’s children.

We are honored and excited to be leading this new statewide network that could serve as a model for replication in other states in the future!

The meeting was attended by representatives from all of the partner Centers across NY, community partners, and representatives from several NYS and NYC agencies.


The directors of each respective center convene to conduct multiple work planning sessions aimed to discuss goals, challenges, and collaborative strategies to achieve outcomes that promote children’s environmental health across NY.
Keynote speaker Philip Landrigran, MD and his wife Mary Landrigan meeting with founder of the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition (HBCAC) Karen Miller.
Richard Miller, PhD accepting his raffle prize from
Mount Sinai Grants Manager Dorothy Parks and Region 2 PEHSU Program Coordinator Marisela Bolanos.
Advisory Members, Keynote Speakers, and DOH Partners convening to review progress of the program and provide recommendations. Top (Left to Right): Michele Herdt, PhD, MPH, Andrew Aligne, MD, MPH, Pamela Hadad-Hurst, Michael T. Hatcher, DrPH, Sophie J. Balk, MD, Kathleen Curtis, LPN, and Leah Graziano. Bottom (Left to Right): Wendy Rubinstein, Peggy Shepard, Deborah Nagin, MPH, and Bobbi Wilding, MS.


Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Hudson Valley (Westchester)


Keynote Speaker Robert Amler, MD, MBA presenting on Children’s Environmental Health Success Stories.
Left to Right: John Culhane, Diane Lindsay-Adler, MS, RDN, CDN, Jennifer Becker, MPH, and Erin Thanik, MD, MPH collectively discussing strategic plans to raise the profile of the Network.


Pediatrician and Public Health Physician Travis Hobart, MD, MPH (SUNY Upstate Medical University) discussing ways to refine the Network’s goals, outcomes, and actions to track our progress.


NYS Department of Health Asthma Program Manager, Lynley Siag, MPH, MPA discussing opportunities to leverage and connect programs/resources that will enhance our impact.

City Hall Testimony about Waste Transfer Stations

New York City Council Intro 157 proposes to limit the maximum capacity of NYC’s waste transfer stations. These stations are disproportionally concentrated in impoverished neighborhoods, adding extra burdens to families—extra truck traffic, polluted streets and polluted air. Limiting capacity at the stations is a first step in a larger, coordinated management plan to make NYC more efficient, and equitable, in handling its waste. Dr. Cappy Collins, of the Long Island Children’s Environmental Health Centers, testified in support of the Introduction at New York City Hall on June 19th, 2018.

Transcript as follows:

[Dr. Collins] Good afternoon, thank you for the opportunity to speak before the City Council.

My name is Dr. Cappy Collins, and I am a pediatrician who works with families in East Harlem.

Air quality is a major factor affecting the health of children, especially in communities beset with disproportionate burdens of traffic, poor housing quality and poverty.  And, East Harlem is one of those communities. 

The parents I work with are doing what they can to preserve the health of their children. Asthma is a big problem, with higher rates in East Harlem than almost anywhere in the country. Parents can take care of doctor appointments and keeping up with medications. That’s within their power.

They cannot control the garbage trucks idling on the streets, criss-crossing the streets and barreling up the avenues as they haul thousands of tons of waste per day through their neighborhood, en route to disposal sites in other impoverished neighborhoods in the South Bronx.  

Combustion exhaust, contains hydrocarbons, soot, ozone, and carcinogenic chemicals like benzene and makes asthma worse. I can’t prescribe a medication for this; and families can’t protect themselves from the polluted air they breathe.  We need help. And help is at hand. As a community of New Yorkers, we can make the air better through legislation.

Limiting the maximum capacity at our waste transfer stations is a first step toward clean air. I urge the Council to support Intro 157 and continue building a just city that allows children and families to thrive.

Thank you.

[Councilmember Antonio Reynoso] Thank you. Appreciate your testimony from a pediatrician. Just thinking about the health effects, a lot of people may take it for granted, I just happen to recently have a newborn baby.

[Dr. Collins] Congratulations.

[Mr. Reyes] When I walk outside now, I think about it completely differently. I think about trucks, I cross streets differently…