When Toxics Take Over

BY ON November 7, 2011

 Ana FloresNot only was my pregnancy four years ago one of the most special moments of my life, but it also made me aware, on a much larger scale, of the issues of environmental and social responsibility. The more I read books about pregnancy, birthing and child-rearing, the more I learned about words that had only really existed for me in my Chemistry classes in high school and college!

Words like mercury and lead suddenly sounded threatening and something I wanted to avoid and protect my daughter from. And with good reason.

I’ve now learned so much about the dangerous health risks associated with the toxic emissions of mercury, lead and other chemicals being released by coal-fired power plants into the air we breathe. These power plants spew out 40 percent of the mercury emissions in this country. I know exposure to mercury and lead is poisonous and poses serious health issues, especially to infants, children, teenagers, older adults and pregnant women. I know it’s even more dangerous when it pollutes our waters and soil. I know Latino and African American communities are at a higher risk of being contaminated and suffer the ill-consequences.

As much as I am advocating for regulating the emissions that spew from these coal-fired power plants, I am also awakened to the need to take action within my own home, and to limit exposure to those toxics.

Lead is one of those dangerous chemicals that affects the health of over one million children in the U.S. This can happen just by being exposed to dust from lead-based paint and substances in their own homes. The good news is that this type of poisoning is 100% preventable, and if we act on time by testing our children, we can clean up our pre-1978 homes from harmful lead.

Thanks to a joint effort by The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Ad Council, awareness is being raised to the importance of getting children tested for lead poisoning. This is happening through a campaign that recently launched, the National Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Campaign. Through a series of PSA’s in both English and Spanish, the campaign encourages parents to visit leadfreekids.org and libredeplomo.org to learn more about how to have their child and home tested, where the highest concentrations of lead are in the home, the risks of lead poisoning, and what to look for. Plus, it provide more resources on the dangers of lead and children.

We encourage you to visit the sites and learn more about how you can protect your family from the effects of lead. Please join us at the Moms Clean Air Force to receive more information about how lead and mercury poisoning affects us all and what we can do to prevent exposure to these harmful toxics.

TOPICS: Coal, Latino Community, Mercury Poisoning, Pollution, Social Justice