EWG’s Ken Cook Recognized by Mount Sinai’s Children’s Environmental Health Center

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For Immediate Release: 
Friday, May 16, 2014

Washington, D.C. –Environmental Working Group co-founder and President Ken Cook will be the featured guest and honoree today (May 16) at the annual Greening Our Children event hosted by the Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC), part of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.  The CEHC is directed by Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, a renowned pediatrician and international leader in the field of children’s environmental health.

“Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working in partnership with Phil Landrigan and his colleagues at Mount Sinai and CEHC on behalf of children’s health,” Cook said.  “While I’m immensely honored and thankful for the recognition of EWG’s work, no other group of people does more to protect kids from toxic chemicals and pollution than Phil and the amazing team at CEHC.”

Our mission at the CEHC,” said Dr. Landrigan, “is to do research to discover the preventable environmental causes of disease in children and then to use our research findings to develop strategies that safeguard children’s health and prevent disease.”

For two decades, Cook and his colleagues at EWG have produced ground-breaking environmental health research that has focused attention on the risks of excessive exposures to toxic chemicals.

Cook and EWG co-founder Richard Wiles (now vice president for Strategic Communications and Director of Research with Climate Central) first worked with Dr. Landrigan, CEHC’s Director and founder, in the early 1990’s, to spotlight the risks toxic pesticides posed to children.  

In 1993, as Dr. Landrigan led a team of experts in publishing the seminal National Academy of Sciences report Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, Cook, Wiles and EWG initiated what became a series of widely publicized studies that found pesticides omnipresent in much of the foods eaten by children, including baby food. The collective research by EWG and Landrigan, along with their tireless advocacy together on behalf of kids’ health, would persuade Congress to enact the landmark Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, which for the first time limited pesticides on foods specifically to protect children.

“I could not possibly accept recognition of this nature without recognizing the extraordinary contributions to children’s health of EWG’s co-founder, Richard Wiles, who in my view stands alongside Phil Landrigan, Dr. Dick Jackson, the late Al Meyerhoff of NRDC, and a handful of other intellectual architects of the strongest policies in place today to protect kids from pesticides and other dangerous chemicals,” Cook said. 

In the late 1990’s, EWG set out on an ambitious multi-year research project to use biomonitoring techniques to document the burden of toxic chemicals and pollutants in people.  Cook and several colleagues, friends and associates, including noted journalist Bill Moyers, Ted Turner, the businessman and philanthropist and his daughter Laura Turner Seydel, an EWG board member, were among the first to submit their blood and urine for laboratory testing.  The results: a shocking number of hazardous pollutants were present in their bodies

In 2005, at Cook’s direction, EWG researchers discovered hundreds of industrial chemicals in umbilical cord blood. These findings changed the debate over chemical exposures in people by proving that contamination began in the womb. Armed with this study and other pioneering EWG research, Cook developed a critically acclaimed presentation entitled 10 Americans, which he has delivered before thousands of people, including members of Congress and state legislatures, to make the case for overhauling the nation’s main chemicals management law.

Cook has been a central player in the effort to reform pesticide and chemicals laws for two decades, testifying before the House and Senate multiple times and providing counsel to top environmental and health officials in the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

Previous Greening Our Children honorees include the late U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and actress and activist Jessica Alba.