Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Calling all Mama (and Papa) Bears

I can get pretty heated up about chemical contamination issues, but if you really want to see the steam coming from my ears, tell me about children being exposed to toxic substances. Then the Mama Bear in me takes over, and whether or not the cubs are my own, I can get pretty fierce in my attempts to protect them.

I've received two different emails today with links to a USA Today article about the location of public schools near toxic chemical sites. You can read the article here: http://content.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/smokestack/index
Besides the article, this site also gives you the option of finding the chemical pollution ranking of any school location in the country. After you read the article, you can go here:
http://www.childproofing.org and find out what you can do to make schools and our communities safer places for children to live and learn.

Childproofing our Communities is a project of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), a non-profit organization founded by Lois Gibbs, the mother living near Love Canal thirty years ago, who led the fight against that toxic spot. Their mission statement says that they will assist any individual, family or community in the fight for a safer environment. They are currently leading the way to insisting that the EPA follow through on already established policies of building schools in safe locations. This is really a big issue. One place this controversy has raged is in the Salt Lake Valley, where plans were made to build a secondary school in a big industrial area right next to I-15. Clearly, this was not a healthy location for children to spend the bulk of their daylight hours.

I see the location of schools, however, as only half the battle. There are many communities (like Utah Valley, where some of my grandchildren live) in which the overall air pollution is so bad that no school location has a good rating. So the battle to clean up the whole community has to to on.

There is much work to do in cleaning up our toxic environment, with too many people in denial of the seriousness of the problem, but almost everyone agrees that children should be protected, so that's a good place to start.


Susie Collins said...

I'm really heartened to see parents start to wake up! I think this is where we will start to see change in environmental policy and toxic chemical laws: in relation to children's health. It would have been very nice if people had maybe paid attention to us canaries and others who were the first to get sick from environmental toxics, but I'll take what I can get. If we really truly start to implement and enforce laws that protect the air children breathe, then we all win.

celia said...

i think i've been in a bit of denial, because I kept my children home for school--

but now that I have a son on his own with a wife and two babies I feel this keenly--

I was so proud of my daughter in law when she chose to use natural baby care products, but my "green" son wears this awful deoderant (except when i'm visiting; his wife takes it away from him when i'm there, bless her!)--

WHAT did I teach that boy???


celia said...

but, I neglected to add . . .

I need to be more "worried" about children around the world--


I admit I have had some concerns about chemical problems in our church building--