Environmental Advocate Deirdre Imus Presents Talk on Green Living at SHU

News Story: May 1, 2010
Deirdre Imus spoke on 'Green Living'
during her recent visit to SHU.

Environmental health advocate Deirdre Imus drew parallels between everyday exposures to toxins and the increasing incidence of cancer and other illnesses, especially in children, for an audience of about 100 people at Sacred Heart University’s Schine Auditorium on April 29.

Imus is the founder and president of the not-for-profit Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey and the co-founder and co-director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer in New Mexico. She has authored four books, including three national best-sellers, she is a frequent speaker on green living and children’s health issues and she developed a line of eco-friendly cleaning products that are sold commercially and are used in more than 200 hospitals nationwide.

During her presentation, “What’s Green got to do with it?,” Imus posed a number of questions to students, among them “Why are our children so sick?,” “Is the environment making our children sick?,” and “How toxic is our world?” Imus, a native of Waterbury, Conn., who is married to nationally-syndicated talk show host Don Imus, said many babies are born into the world with a “body burden” of 287 toxic chemicals that have been found in cord blood. Further, she said, 148 toxic chemicals have been identified in the blood and urine of Americans of all ages, which she says may account for the rise in asthma, allergies, childhood rheumatism, cancer, and other conditions and illnesses.

The prevalence of toxins in food, the water supply, vaccines, and other sources makes it impossible to eliminate all exposures, but their affects can be reduced by making healthier choices regarding food, cleaning supplies, and personal care products, said Imus, who follows a vegan diet.

Brianna Melilli, 20, of Poughkeepsie, New York, a sports management and marketing major, said after reading about Imus and listening to her speak she realizes that living a simpler life leads to a healthier lifestyle.

Heather Wolf, 20, of Beacon, New York, a biology major in the pre-med program, told Imus she plans to become an oncologist who will seek alternatives to radiation and chemotherapy in her treatment of patients. Imus welcomed the idea of Wolf becoming a “green oncologist,” saying it is up to Wolf’s generation to explore alternative therapies. “Even if they don’t teach that in medical school I think your generation will have the doctors who will take that on,” Imus said.

Ryota Aratani, 22, a senior from Eastchester, New York, and an accounting major, said his generation should also work to educate people from developing nations so they can find sustainable methods for manufacturing, heating and growing crops.

Imus left the audience with one question: “What is your sense of purpose?” She equated purpose with giving to others and said that can lead to adopting a healthier lifestyle because, “You have to take care of yourself first and then when you do that you are able to help others,” she said.

“Beyond the green idea, the students got hold of the greater concept she talked about – “What is your purpose?.” So I think we got beyond what we expected. Her overall approach was memorable,” said Richard Pate, an assistant professor of management, who teaches Business Law.

Imus’ campus visit was arranged by Students in Free Enterprise, or SIFE.

Pate said the Imus visit will serve as a starting point for a student project. SIFE students plan to promote the use of green cleaning products in schools throughout the region.