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Our Blog

Stay up to date with our recent research findings, news features, and publications below! Our blog is a great place to learn more detailed information about the collective nationwide network of Children's Environmental Health researchers and their findings.

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Children’s Environmental Health (CEH) Day takes place on the second Thursday of October each year.

Focused on action and equity, the goal of #CEHDay is to collectively increase the visibility of children's environmental health issues while empowering individuals and organizations to take action on behalf of children nationwide. We believe that all children have the right to healthy environments in which to thrive. Environmental health for all kids means clean air, clean water, products free from harmful chemicals.

Each October, we celebrate Children’s Environmental Health Month. As a member of the Children’s Environmental Health Network, we strive to increase awareness and understanding of children’s environmental health among key audiences. Through our research and outreach work, we are committed to creating intervention and prevention methods among communities, health care professionals, and policymakers.

Today’s children face an epidemic of illnesses and chronic diseases - linked to environmental exposures, and our changing climate. There is an urgent need to put children and their families into the forefront of our nation's public health and environmental health related actions.

As a research center in the Children’s Environmental Health Network, we strive to positively impact local environmental policy in our region with the findings of our studies. As part of this network we strive to:

  1. Increase awareness and understanding of children’s environmental health among key audiences

  2. Mobilize action on children’s environmental health issues

  3. Establish/expand the community and network of partners working on children’s environmental health issues

Our Efforts

Through our continued research on the health outcomes associated with early childhood exposure to arsenic, we have been successful in advocating for and informing policies locally and nationwide. In 2019, our research on arsenic exposure through drinking water and the health effects it has on children informed the policy that was created in NH to limit the amount arsenic in municipal drinking water systems. Our research on the presence of arsenic in rice-based baby food was also fundamental to the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021. The bill, which was proposed to congress will limit the amounts of heavy metals in baby food.

We have recently expanded our outreach efforts to inform healthcare providers of the prevalence of naturally occurring in our region’s drinking water. While it’s been a great success to see limitations on arsenic enforced in public drinking water, a huge portion of the population in rural NH and VT get their drinking water from private wells, which are not regularly tested for arsenic.

In a recent trial study, we encourage local children’s healthcare providers to ask patients where they receive their water source. Eleven healthcare clinics in mostly rural areas of New Hampshire and Vermont were asked to give out prepaid water sampling kits, covering several possible contaminants including arsenic. The study test different approaches to distributing the kits and found the most parents completed them when doctors handed them out in person and followed up with reminder calls, solidifying the importance of disseminating pertinent research findings to providers and the greater community.

The environment can have an important influence on development, and this also includes the prenatal period. The growth that happens during the nine months of prenatal development is nothing short of astonishing, but this period is also a time of potential vulnerability. Fortunately, the effects of many of these hazards can be greatly lessened or even avoided entirely.

A new Dartmouth-led study, published in the journal Environment International, reveals how prenatal exposure to mixtures of commonly found metals can adversely affect fetal growth.

Fetal growth is linked to future health—infants who are born small for their gestational age experience greater rates of neonatal mortality and are at a higher risk of developing neurocognitive impairment in childhood and cardiometabolic disease later in life.

A growing number of studies have established that toxic metals, coming from sources such as contaminated food and drinking water and polluted air and dust, are prevalent in the environment, and many of these metals can cross the placenta or alter placental function, contributing to reduced fetal growth.

Prenatal exposure to industrial chemicals can come from air, food, water, plastics, and other industrial and consumer products.

Our research findings have shown that arsenic at levels below 10 parts per billion may have health effects on people and children. Arsenic exposure can happen through a variety of sources including but not limited to:

  • Naturally occurring arsenic that enters drinking water through bedrock. Water that is sourced through public systems has been regulated in NH, in large part due to findings from our research, to 5 parts per billion (ppb). However, the federal drinking water standard for arsenic in drinking water is still 10 micrograms per liter. Private well systems are not regulated, therefore you should regularly test your well water.

  • Exposure through high-arsenic foods including: Leafy vegetables like lettuce, collard greens, kale, mustard and turnip greens – store more arsenic in the leaves than other types of vegetables do but not enough to be of concern. Root vegetables like beets, turnips, carrots, radishes and potatoes – have arsenic mostly in their skins. Peeling these vegetables will get rid of most of the arsenic, but avoid eating the peel or composting as this would put arsenic back into the soil. Apples, pears and grapes – absorb some arsenic that occurs naturally in soil or came from past use of pesticides.

Reducing exposure to all sources of arsenic is important to keep exposure levels as low as possible. and if you have a private well with arsenic in your water, eat a lot of rice and drink a lot of juice, it is recommended that you reduce or change those exposure sources."

Eating a variety of age-appropriate healthy foods is good for nutrition and for food safety. This approach helps you and your children get important nutrients and may reduce exposure to and potential harmful effects from contaminants that foods can absorb from the environment.

1. Opt for a variety of grains for a well-balanced diet

Rice tends to absorb arsenic more readily than other

crops, however, consumers can certainly eat rice as part

of a well-balanced diet. For infants, this includes infant

rice cereal. Source a variety of grains for your child's diet.

Rice cereal fortified with iron is a good source of nutrients

for your baby, but it shouldn’t be the only source and does

not need to be the first source. Other iron fortified infant

cereals include oat, barley and multigrain. In addition to

being nutritious, they are similarly effective as rice for

infants with esophageal reflux tendencies.feed infants and

toddlers a variety of grains as part of a well-balanced diet.

2. When preparing rice, be sure to RINSE

To lower the amount of arsenic in your rice, use six times

as much water as rice when you boil and cook down your


Rinse your rice in a strainer to get rid of about ½ the

amount of arsenic that the rice

absorbed while cooking.

3. Limit juice intake: Limit children’s fruit juice consumption to 4-6 ounces a day or less, or eat whole fruits instead. Review information from the U.S Food and Drug Administration (scroll to “FDA Monitoring and Testing of Arsenic in Food…”) on apple and pear juice, and from Consumer Reports on metals in some fruit juices. Some juices, like apple, pear or grape, can have higher amounts of arsenic.

4.Wash your produce: Most people are exposed to very little arsenic in fruits and vegetables. Arsenic uptake by a plant depends on the type of fruit or vegetable and soil characteristics. If you are a home gardener, test your soil for arsenic, since soil in some areas of the country can contain arsenic that is very high. Carefully washing your garden crops is an important step to reducing arsenic exposure from soil that remains on the food you eat.”

5. Vary the fruits and vegetables that you eat, particularly if you are exposed to arsenic through private well water, other foods or other sources. Some fruits and veggies have more arsenic than others, so you don’t want to eat too much of any one kind.

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