Toxicology and Societies: Philip Landrigan

Dr. Landrigan

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Title: Pollution, Climate Change and Children's Health

Pollution and climate change are two existential challenges of the Anthropocene Epoch. Both threaten human health, and their health impacts fall especially heavily on children. This talk will examine the impacts of pollution and climate changes on children’s health in countries at different levels of economic development. It will examine the disproportionate effects of pollution and climate change on children living in poor communities and communities of color. Finally, it will make the case that the health consequences of pollution and climate change are not inevitable. Many can be mitigated by intelligent, courageous, evidence-based action. Leadership will be key.

About the Speaker: Philip Landrigan, Boston College

Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc is a pediatrician and epidemiologist who directs the Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good and the Global Observatory on Pollution and Health at Boston College.

For four decades, Dr. Landrigan has undertaken research elucidating connections between the environment and human health and translated this research into disease prevention policies.

Dr. Landrigan’s studies of lead poisoning in children living near ore smelters were among the first to show that airborne lead can cause childhood lead poisoning. They were also among the earliest studies to document silent lead poisoning with IQ loss in asymptomatic children. These studies contributed to the removal of lead from gasoline, an action that reduced childhood lead poisoning in the USA by 95% and resulted in a nearly 5-point gain in the mean IQ of all American children born since 1980.

From 1988-1993 Dr. Landrigan chaired a congressionally mandated Committee at the US National Academy of Sciences on Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. This Committee documented children’s exquisite sensitivity to pesticides and other toxic chemicals in the environment and catalyzed fundamental revision of US pesticide law to better protect children.

At the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, where he was a Professor from 1985 to 2018, Dr. Landrigan served as Chairman of Preventive Medicine and Dean for Global Health. At Mount Sinai, he oversaw the medical follow-up of 22,000 9/11 first responders - firefighters, police officers, paramedics, construction workers, and volunteers – who served at the site of the World Trade Center Disaster of September 11, 2001.

From 2015-2018, Dr. Landrigan co-chaired The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health. This Commission found that pollution is responsible for 9 million premature deaths each year and for enormous economic losses. It showed that pollution can be prevented and that prevention is highly cost-effective. It laid the foundation for the Global Observatory on Pollution and Health.

Dr. Landrigan served on active duty in the US Public Health Service from 1970 to 1985 and in the Medical Corps of the United States Naval Reserve from 1996 to 2005. He retired from the Navy at the rank of Captain (O-6).

Dr. Landrigan graduated from Boston Latin School (1959), Boston College (1963), Harvard Medical School (1967) and the London School of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, University of London (1977). He trained in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston and trained in epidemiology at the Centers for Disease Control. In 1987, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine

This event has concluded, but a recording of the presentation is available here.


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