Moms Clean Air Force is working on three campaigns related to plastics, from toxic chemicals in our homes to large-scale industrial pollution:
This misleading practice is greenwashing at its worst. In recent years, plastics industry lobbyists have been promoting an old incineration method as a new way to solve the plastic pollution crisis. They are calling the process “chemical recycling” or “advanced recycling,” even though nothing gets recycled. Instead, the trash that enters a so-called “chemical recycling” facility is burned, creating harmful air pollution. Learn More
The ubiquity of plastics and other petrochemicals comes at a steep cost to our health, especially for those living near production and processing facilities. Most petrochemical production facilities are located in Texas and Louisiana, but there are others in virtually every state, including a growing number in the Ohio River Valley. In April 2023, EPA proposed standards to cut pollution from more than 200 of the biggest, most toxic chemical manufacturing facilities in the country. Thousands of Moms Clean Air Force members submitted comments to EPA during the spring 2023 public comment period, calling on the agency to strengthen the rule. We are urging EPA to finalize these protections as soon as possible.
Vinyl chloride is a toxic petrochemical used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, a material used in all manner of household items from shower curtains to flooring to siding. Vinyl chloride is a known human carcinogen that causes liver cancer as well as leukemia, lymphoma, brain cancer, and lung cancer. Moms Clean Air Force is calling on EPA to ban vinyl chloride under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
WHY WE CARE
Plastics are made of fossil fuels combined with PFAS, phthalates, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals. They are the biggest category of “petrochemicals.” Plastics are everywhere, and plastics production is expected to triple over the next 40 years. Many plastics are used for mere minutes, but their impact can leave a mark for centuries to come. Plastics are piling up in our landfills and oceans, incinerators are turning waste plastics into toxic air pollutants, and consumer products are leaching chemicals into our bodies. Moreover, the creation of plastics will contribute up to 19% of global climate pollution by 2040.
Chemicals in plastics have been linked to a range of health issues, including neurodevelopmental disorders, asthma, allergies, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, and cancer. Burning plastics releases chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious health harms. These include benzene, cadmium, dioxins, arsenic, lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and mercury.
Plastics production is expected to triple
over the next 40 years.
Plastics are produced in some of the nation’s most underserved communities, blanketing neighborhoods in carcinogenic air pollution. Systemic racism has created practices that force people of color to live closer to industrial facilities and often in neighborhoods already overburdened by industrial air pollution. While air pollution is a threat to everyone, the impacts are not felt equally. For example, Black communities with greater exposure to air pollution have higher than average childhood asthma rates, and Black children have a 500% higher mortality rate from asthma than white kids.
Moms Clean Air Force’s work on plastics and petrochemicals is a natural extension of our ten-plus years fighting pollution from fracking and methane. Plastic is made from ethane, a fracking by-product, and petrochemical manufacturing facilities are often located near existing oil and gas operations. In 2021, we supported the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, the most comprehensive plan ever introduced in Congress to address the plastic pollution crisis, and we will continue to work with Congress on solutions that address the environmental injustices created by the buildout of petrochemical facilities in communities of color and low-income communities.
Moms Clean Air Force also supports state-based efforts to cut pollution from petrochemical facilities. Our organizers in the Ohio River Valley, Louisiana, and Texas are demanding that their elected officials and agencies show leadership in holding these facilities accountable.