This piece was cross-posted from Spanglish Baby
In the past months, Roxana and I have been pouring over tons of information that is making our eyes open up to the dangers associated with air pollution and mercury contamination. What has us the most worried, and motivated to act and raise awareness, is the fact that Latinos are particularly vulnerable to the effects of bad air quality because of the communities´ tendency to live in areas with high levels of pollution.
Now, a new study released by the Sierra Club has made my eyes open up even wider. This study reveals that the simple act of fishing, and eating those fish, is threatening Latinos´ health even further because of how much mercury they are consuming. In fact, the press release states that “toxic mercury pollution, which primarily comes from coal-fired plants, constitutes a clear and present danger to the health of the Latino community.”
A clear and present danger. Wow!
Fish is making us sick. But why?
What happens is that people without access to cars and boats tend to fish near their homes, most of them Latinos in urban communities. They go to their local waterways, such as canals and freshwater lakes; waters where mercury pollution levels are significantly higher.
With 76% of the Latinos that fish regularly eating and sharing what they catch with their families, the risk is much higher among our community. What they are eating is fish caught in these contaminated waters; fish laden with mercury that comes from coal-fired power plants and, if consumed daily (as many do), intaking twice the amount of mercury considered safe by the Evironmental Protection Agency´s standards.
Mercury is a neurotoxin, meaning it is a poison. Any pregnant or nursing mamá can clearly remember how many warnings we received to avoid tuna, swordfish and any fatty fish that is most likely to contain high levels of this poison. But the danger to consuming mercury doesn´t end once our children are feeding on their own. They, and us, are still ingesting mercury in so many ways.
This is all very alarming, and even infuriating, to me. I am here to tell you about it so you too can get angry and motivated to do what’s within your reach to protect Latinos, and all communities, from the harmful effects of air and water contamination. And what’s within your reach is the very simple, yet powerful, act of joining Roxana and I and signing up at the Moms Clean Air Force to make your voice count.
We’re also co-hosting a Twitter chat where you can get inspired to be an activist for whatever cause you believe in. We are all activists, and it’s the little details that count and add up.
MCAF Twitter Chat: Finding Time for Activism
Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Time: 9:00 PM EST
Location: Twitter, at #MCAF
Disclosure: We are receiving a small honorarium for our time writing, speaking and participating in events as part of the Moms Clean Air Force. Be sure that we would not associate our names, likeness and blog if we did not believe in the cause.
Photo Credit: Mike Baird