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Your Environment. Your Health.

National Institute of Environmental Research, Republic of Korea

Network of WHO Collaborating Centres for Children’s Environmental Health

The WHO Collaborating Centre for Vulnerable Populations and Environmental Health at the National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) in the Republic of Korea, conducts scientific research to improve the health of children, pregnant women, and the elderly, who are the most vulnerable to environmental health issues. Specifically, NIER Centre research examines how exposure to metals, phthalates, and phenols affects the health of these vulnerable populations.

In a global network of researchers committed to protecting children’s environmental health, the NIER Centre is:

  • Conducting collaborative research projects aimed at finding risk factors for environment-related disorders in vulnerable populations, including infants, children, and pregnant women.
  • Building research capacity in developing countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Hosting and participating in international programs and collaborative research on vulnerable populations and environmental health.
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Centre Contact
Kyunghee Choi
Director, NIER WHO Centre
Director General, Environmental Health Research Department, National Institute of Environmental Research
Mail Address National Institute of Environmental Research, Hwangyong-ro 42, Seo-gu, Incheon, 404-708, Republic of Korea
Website Link
Collaborators Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea
Dankook University, Yongin, South Korea
Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
Chemicals/Exposures Studied Metals, phenols, phthalate metabolites
Health or Social Effects Studied Health behaviors, socioeconomic status, BMI classification, anemia, growth and development, neurodevelopment, diabetes, dyslipidemia, prevalence of asthma, and atopic dermatitis
Population(s) Studied The Mother and Children’s Environmental Health (MOCEH) birth cohort was launched in 2006 and 1,751 mothers were enrolled from Seoul (a metropolitan area), Cheonan (control), and Ulsan (an industrial city).
From 2005 to 2010, the Children’s Health and Environmental Research (CHEER) enrolled 7,059 children from 33 primary schools in 10 cities. One-third of CHEER participants (n = 2,770) were followed 2 and 4 years after enrollment.

From 2012 to 2014, the Korean Environmental Health Survey in Children and Adolescents (KorEHS-C) was conducted in nationally representative 2,300 children and adolescents aged 3 to 18 from 62 child care centers and kindergartens and 120 schools.

The new birth cohort study, Korean Children’s Environmental Health Study (Ko-CHENS) has been established from 2015 and the follow-up survey will be conducted in every growth stages for the following 22 years. 100,000 mothers will be enrolled from 13 Environmental Health Centers.






  • Hur J, Kim H, Ha EH, Park H, Ha M, Kim Y, Hong YC, Chang N. 2013. Birth weight of Korean infants is affected by the interaction of maternal iron intake and GSTM1 polymorphism. J Nutr 143(1):67-73; doi: 10.3945/jn.112.161638.
  • Hwang JY, Lee JY, Kim KN, Kim H, Ha EH, Park H, Ha M, Kim Y, Hong YC, Chang N. 2013. Maternal iron intake at mid-pregnancy is associated with reduced fetal growth: results from Mothers and Children's Environmental Health (MOCEH) study. Nutr J 12:38; doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-12-38.
  • Kim Y, Ha EH, Park H, Ha M, Kim Y, Hong YC, Kim EJ, Kim BN. 2013. Prenatal lead and cadmium co-exposure and infant neurodevelopment at 6 months of age: the Mothers and Children’s Environmental Health (MOCEH) study. Neurotoxicology 35:15-22; doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2012.11.006.
  • Kim JH, Jeong KS, Ha EH, Park H, Ha M, Hong YC, Lee SJ, Lee KY, Jeong J, Kimg Y. 2013. Association between prenatal exposure to cadmium and atopic dermatitis in infancy J Korean Med Sci 28(4):516-521; doi: 10.3346/jkms.2013.28.4.516.
  • Kim H, Kim KN, Hwang JY, Ha EH, Park H, Ha M, Kim Y, Hong YC, Chang N. 2013. Relation between serum folate status and blood mercury concentrations in pregnant women. Nutrition 29(3):514-518; doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2012.08.012.
  • Lee YA, Hwang YJ, Kim H, Kim KN, Ha EH, Park H, Ha M, Kim Y, Hong YC, Chang N. 2013. Relationship between maternal sodium intake and blood lead concentration during pregnancy. Br J Nutr 109(5):853-858; doi: 10.1017/S0007114512002760.


  • Chang MH, Park H, Ha M, Kim Y, Hong YC, Ha EH. 2012. Characteristics of humidifier use in Korean pregnant women: the MOCEH study. Environ Health Toxicol 27:e2012003; doi: 10.5620/eht.2012.27.e2012003.
  • Kim H, Hwang JY, Kim KN, Ha EH, Park H, Ha M, Lee KY, Hong YC, Tamura T, Chang N. 2012. Relationship between body-mass index and serum folate concentrations in pregnant women. Eur J Clin Nutr 66(1):136-138; doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.160.


  • Kim H, Hwang JY, Ha EH, Park H, Ha M, Lee SJ, Hong YC, Chang N. 2011. Association of maternal folate nutrition and serum C-reactive protein concentrations with gestational age at delivery. Eur J Clin Nutr 65(3):350-356; doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.267.
  • Kim Y, Ha EH, Kim EJ, Park H, Ha M, Kim JH, Hong YC, Chang N, Kim BN. 2011. Prenatal exposure to phthalates and infant development at six months: prospective Mothers and Children’s Environmental Health (MOCEH) study. Environ Health Perspect 119(10):1495-1500; doi: 10.1289/ehp.1003178.
  • Kim BM, Lee BE, Hong YC, Park H, Ha M, Kim YJ, Kim Y, Chang N, Kim BN, Oh SY, Yoo M, Ha EH. 2011. Mercury levels in maternal and cord blood and attained weight through the 24 months of life. Sci Total Environ 410-411:26-33; doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.08.060.
  • Kim H, Hwang JY, Ha EH, Park H, Ha M, Lee SH, Hong YC, Chang N. 2011. Fruit and vegetable intake influences the association between exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and a marker of oxidative stress in pregnant women. Eur J Clin Nutr 65(10):1118-1125; doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.77.
  • Lee BE, Hong YC, Park H, Ha M, Kim JH, Chang N, Roh YM, Kim BN, Kim Y, Oh SY, Kim YJ, Ha EH. 2011. Secondhand smoke exposure during pregnancy and infantile neurodevelopment. Environ Res 111(4):539-544; doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2011.02.014.
  • Lee YA, Hwang JY, Kim H, Ha EH, Park H, Ha M, Kim Y, Hong YC, Chang N. 2011. Relationships of maternal zinc intake from animal foods with fetal growth. Br J Nutr 106(2):237-242; doi: 10.1017/S0007114510005878.
  • Lee BE, Ha M, Park H, Hong YC, Kim Y, Kim YJ, Ha EH. 2011. Psychosocial work stress during pregnancy and birth weight. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol 25(3):246-254; doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2010.01177.x.


  • Lee BE, Hong YC, Park H, Ha M, Koo BS, Chang N, Roh YM, Kim BN, Kim YJ, Kim BM, Jo SJ, Ha EH. 2010. Interaction between GSTM1/GSTT1 polymorphism and blood mercury on birth weight. Environ Health Perspect 118(3):437-443; doi: 10.1289/ehp.0900731.
  • Kim H, Lee HJ, Hwang JY, Ha EH, Park H, Ha M, Kim JH, Hong YC, Chang N. 2010. Blood cadmium concentrations of male cigarette smokers are inversely associated with fruit consumption. J Nutr 140(6):1133-1138; doi: 10.3945/jn.109.120659.


  • Kim BM, Ha M, Park HS, Lee BE, Kim YJ, Hong YC, Kim Y, Chang N, Roh YM, Kim BN, Oh SY, Ha EH, MOCEH Study Group. 2009. The mothers and children's environmental health (MOCEH) study. Eur J Epidemiol 24(9):573-583; doi: 10.1007/s10654-009-9370-7.


  • Lee AY, Kim H, Kim KN, Ha E, Park H, Ha M, Kim Y, Hong Y, Chang N. 2008. The association of maternal food intake and blood lead levels in pregnant and their newborns. Mol Cell Toxicol 4(1):61-65.
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