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Greenwich Mom Raises Environmental Health Concerns

GREENWICH, Conn. – When Jeanine Behr Getz was growing up, she knew almost no one who had asthma, and a fast food dinner was a rare, special treat, rather than a regular dietary staple. The opposite seems true today, and Behr Getz is convinced there's a connection.

"We come in contact with so many more chemicals than we did a generation ago," she says, drawing a correlation between that and the rise of asthma and other afflictions such as food allergies, ADHD and childhood obesity.

Behr Getz began educating herself about the trend when her own daughter was born, eventually changing her lifestyle to reduce the exposure to chemicals and additives in foods and household products. She found a source of knowledge nearby at the Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center . It wasn't long before she became involved in organizing local events to educate others as well as raise funds for the center's research work, under the auspices of Greening Our Children. "They don't accept any corporate financing," she said of the center. "It's pure science there, trying to find environmental causes for childhood diseases."

On Tuesday, the fifth year of events kicks off with a presentation by Mount Sinai's Dr. Nancy Mervish, who will discuss how chemical exposure affects early puberty and breast cancer. "We're seeing girls hitting puberty before they're 10, and that's got to be the environment," says Behr Getz. The meeting will be held at the home of Heather Jervis in Cos Cob and is open to anyone who RSVPs .

Future meetings, held monthly, will deal with obesity and learning defects in December and the environmental impact of hydrofracking in January.

"We're trying to prevent health problems before they happen, rather than cure them after they do," said Behr Getz. "Concern for the environment's effect on children is becoming a groundswell."

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