Occupational and Environmental Medicine Research

For more than 50 years, our cutting-edge research has led a global initiative to prevent, diagnose, and treat occupational illness and injury.

Working under the Division of Occupational Medicine, our research faculty collaborates with experts regionally, through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-funded New York/New Jersey Education Research Center; nationally, with academic departments at major universities and health care institutions; and internationally through the the International Commission on Occupational Health, the World Health Organization, and the International Labour Office.

Current Projects

Our current and ongoing research projects include:

Diesel Exposure

We are exploring community levels of black carbon, which is associated with cardiovascular disease and cancer. Bus depots have proven to be a significant source of this component of particulate matter, generally emitted by vehicles that use diesel.

First 1000 Days Project

The First 1000 Days Project, a collaboration between researchers from the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and scientists in Brescia, Italy, will investigate associations between prenatal environmental exposures, genetic susceptibility, and physiological changes in pregnancy by analyzing obstetrical, neonatal, and child outcomes. Additionally, the project will feature an educational campaign to encourage young couples and adolescents to make healthier choices for themselves and their future children.

Health Promotion in the Workplace

We integrate occupational safety and health protection with workplace policies, programs, and practices in order to advance worker safety, health, and well-being. We work under the guidelines of the Total Worker Health (TWH) Affiliate Program of the Centers for Disease Control, of which the Mount Sinai Health System is a member.

The Selikoff Centers for Occupational Health, in the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, are the first designated TWH Clinical Centers of Excellence in the United States.


We are investigating the ramifications of overexposure to manganese, which often occurs through certain industrial and agricultural activities. Manganese can affect parts of the brain that are important for motor coordination and cognitive functions. Evidence also suggests a link between occupational and environmental exposure to manganese and Parkinson’s disease.

Learn more about 2016 conference covering this topic.

Occupational Health Surveillance

Our ongoing collection and analysis of occupational health data has helped in determining the current risk factors, industries affected, and the state of occupational health in New York.

Return to Work (RTW) Tool for Primary Care Providers for Low Back Pain Patients

Low back pain (LBP) is the most common cause of disability in US adults under the age of 45. Primary care physicians are commonly the first medical practitioners to assess a patient with LBP. Research has now demonstrated that rapid return to normal activities of daily living is generally the best activity recommendation, and a randomized control trial found that in addition to improved function and pain in workers with LBP by implementing a clinical practice guideline in a primary care setting, days of work lost were also reduced. The purpose of this pilot project is to develop such guidelines in the form of an accessible and adaptable tool.  Medical students interested in the research topic are invited to assist in the 6-8 month study.  Learn more.


New York City underground workers are at an increased their risk for silicosis with every year of exposure to silica.  In light of the link between silica exposure and multiple lung-related diseases, such as pneumoconiosis, lung cancer, and autoimmune diseases, we are promoting regular physical examinations and screenings so that respirators and fit-testing may be employed to limit physiological damage.

Women and Children

Knowing that certain chemicals can damage cognitive and motor functions in the developing brain, we are researching how maternal stress combined with exposure to certain metals during pregnancy may influence infant development. Women’s health at work is a special research area with a focus on pregnant working women, and specifically in occupations such as construction.

World Trade Center Health Illnesses

We continue to monitor and analyze the health effects on workers and volunteers who assisted in the recovery and cleanup of the World Trade Center site. We know that they are at an increased risk of multiple illnesses, including various cancers. We continue to investigate these health manifestations through multicenter monitoring and data analysis.