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The Evergreen Community Power Plant (located at bottom center in the above image) is a small power plant that emits toxic chemicals, including lead and mercury. But the nearby community may not even know it's there because the facility avoids public discl

(This blog post first appeared in the Huffington Post on August 29, 2014.)

When you think about sources of toxic air pollution, one of the first things you might picture is a large power plant with huge smoke stacks belching black clouds into the sky. But the truth is that smaller power plants collectively contribute more to the cancer risk faced by Americans every day.

A sign warning of the presence of asbestos.

Every day, just in the course of normal activities, we are exposed to an unbelievable range of toxic chemicals that we may not know about. Of the 80,000 plus chemicals that have been approved to be on the market in the United States, approximately 24,000 are “secret”. Literally, we don’t know what they are.

A child walks through a field.

Farmworkers share stories from the frontlines, in this fourth and final installment of a weekly series:

Part 4: Calling on the EPA to get it right

"I was raised on a farm beginning in the post war years. While our crop used relatively small amounts of herbicides and pesticides, we used enough to become familiar with their hazards.

Southwest Detroit's Marathon Oil Refinery.

On April 27, 2013, thick, black smoke rose high above southwest Detroit from the flames at a nearby industrial facility. Three thousand residents were then ordered to leave their homes and evacuate the area. These residents are no stranger to poor air quality as their neighbors include a coal-fired power plant, a car factory, a water waste management plant, and the Marathon Ashland Petroleum oil refinery, one of 150 oil refineries in the country.

Chrisangel Nieto, 3, rides his tricycle in Hartman Park, the Manchester neighborhood of Houston, Texas.

The EPA held a second public hearing Tuesday in Houston, regarding its proposed rule on oil refinery emissions—and the testimony was dramatic from people living near the refineries who suffer from exposure to those emissions. Testimony ranged from bipartisan congressmen and industry representatives to environmental organizations and fenceline community members from Texas, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania and Louisiana.

A cropduster sprays agricultural fields.

Farmworkers share stories from the frontlines, in this third installment of a weekly series:

Part 3: Living near toxic fields

"As a child, my family worked in the fields bordering the Denver area. Spraying with pesticides was done while we were working or the evening prior. On weekends, our father joined us and the earnings were used to stock up for the winter. Many of our neighbors, relatives and friends also worked in the fields until school started in the fall.

Atlantic trawler.

Scientists and fishermen agree that the industrial midwater trawl fleet is taking a toll on many species on the Atlantic Coast. The massive nets of these vessels kill millions of river herring and, increasingly, the juveniles of some commercially important groundfish such as haddock. Unfortunately, an important action to rein in this damage is facing a substantial delay.

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