Posts tagged: Health and Toxics

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Health and Toxics

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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.


unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
03 March 2010, 2:02 PM
Saving the world 140 characters at a time

The microblogging site Twitter is poised to hit a major milestone: sometime in the next day or so one lucky Twitter user is expected to send out the ten billionth tweet (real-time counter is here).

Whether you love exchanging ideas in 140-character bursts, or if U H8 the resulting abbrevs, people will be paying very close attention to the string of words that mark Twitter's ascension into the big, big time.

So what will that 10 billionth tweet say? How about "Protect Rural Kids From Pesticides! Take action here:"?

2 Comments   /  
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
01 March 2010, 3:45 PM
Streams, rivers & lakes are polluted; here's what we can do to stop it.

The New York Times today reported in the next chapter of their exceptional "Toxic Waters" series that:

"Thousands of the nation's largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act's reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators.

"As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applpies to them. And pollution rates are rising."

The saddest part of this legal debacle is that the streams, lakes and rivers losing federal protection also provide drinking water for approximately 117 million (or more than 1 in 3) Americans, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Polluters are free to dump carcinogens, bacteria and even oil directly into our waters with little or no recourse. This all stems from two misguided rulings by the Supreme Court that cast doubt upon what waters should be protected under federal law. Their ruling on "jurisdiction" left thousands of streams, lakes and rivers unprotected; EPA officials estimate that "as many as 45 percent of major polluters might be either outside regulatory reach or in areas where proving jurisdiction is overwhelmingly difficult."

1 Comment   /  
View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
01 March 2010, 9:25 AM
Five days left to tell EPA to protect rural kids from pesticides
Teresa de Anda, Californians for Pesticide Reform. Photo is from Tracy Perkins' collection: 25 Stories From the Central Valley

In case you missed it, NPR had a very good piece Sunday on Earthjustice's efforts to protect rural children from "pesticide drift"—the toxic spray or vapor that travels from pesticide-treated fields and into nearby communities.

Each year, nearly a billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed into fields and orchards around the country. And as our partner Teresa de Anda with Californians for Pesticide Reform told the NPR reporter, just about everyone in these agricultural areas has a story to tell about unnerving encounters with pesticides.

41 Comments   /  
View Patti Goldman's blog posts
24 February 2010, 3:13 PM
Only 8 days remain to contact EPA
Adelaida Galvez and her daughter Genoveva, who has been exposed to pesticides, live across from an orange grove in Lindsay, CA.

Pesticides, by design, maim, incapacitate, or kill pests. But throughout this country, pesticides drift from the fields where they are sprayed to areas where children live, learn, and play, causing similar harm. Far too many children suffer acute nerve poisoning illnesses from pesticides and they risk debilitating long-term effects like cancer, reproductive impairments, and learning disabilities.

As its name suggests, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with protecting children from pesticide-induced illnesses. In fact, in 1996, Congress unanimously passed the Food Quality Protection Act, giving EPA 10 years to ensure that children would not be harmed by their aggregate exposures to a pesticide.

To do this, EPA added up the exposures to children from a pesticide in food, drinking water, homes, and yards. Unfortunately, it failed to include what is often the biggest exposure for rural kids, kids living near fields or orchards, and farmworkers—pesticides moving through the air to envelop and permeate the homes, schools, parks, and playgrounds. This route of exposure, known as pesticide drift, occurs following pesticide application.

8 Comments   /  
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
24 February 2010, 1:23 PM
31 new water contamination sites across 14 states
Coal ash spill

During a tele-press conference today discussing a new report on coal ash sites, Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward asked environmental advocates whether West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin was correct in asserting that the U.S. EPA was "jumping to classify coal ash" as a hazardous waste. Earthjustice's Lisa Evans was quick to discredit this assertion.

"That's a patently absurd concept," she stated. Manchin is "ignoring science and ignoring concern for public health."

The EPA has been deliberating for 30 years on the issue of regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste and the evidence is overwhelming and mounting that this substance is a threat to public health.

1 Comment   /  
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
19 February 2010, 10:58 AM
New EPA website says rules are on the way
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

I know how crazy this sounds: I love spending time reading through arcane government filings in the Federal Register and on I'm fascinated by the volume of it all, and like a modern day miner panning for environmental gold, I sometimes unearth a juicy nugget of information. Today is one of those days.

Yesterday, the EPA sent out a press release about a new website they've created for bureaucratic nerds like me: This site is a "regulatory gateway," giving all sorts of information about current and pending federal regualtions. So, of course, I start searching various issues we work on: cement kilns (final rule due June 2010), power plants (regulating mercury emissions, proposal due March 2011). But the best nugget came when I searched "coal combustion waste."

18 Comments   /  
View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
17 February 2010, 4:30 PM
Historic litigation may shine light on toxic ingredients

Do household cleaners contain ingredients linked to asthma, nerve damage and other health effects? Manufacturers aren't telling, but Earthjustice attorney Keri Powell may have uncovered the key to their pursed lips.

While investigating a potential legal strategy, Keri found buried in the pages of a book of New York State statutes a long-forgotten law authorizing the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to require household cleaning product manufacturers to disclose their chemical ingredients and information about the health risks they pose. In other words, pay dirt.

State regulations issued in 1976 made these disclosures mandatory. Such laws are practically nonexistent in the United States, and the New York law has been altogether overlooked.

Until now.

203 Comments   /  
View Molly Woodward's blog posts
05 February 2010, 11:05 AM
Ozone, salmon, household cleaners
Ozone-caused smog in Los Angeles

Some top stories from the past week at Earthjustice…

This week found Earthjustice attorneys in courtrooms addressing a variety of issues, from protecting wildlife to public health.

On Monday, David Baron was in Arlington, Virginia, testifying in support of stronger standards for ozone pollution. Ozone is the main ingredient in the gray-brown haze commonly known as smog that blankets cities across the U.S. Each year it sends thousands of people to emergency rooms. Its long-term effects actually prevented a witness from testifying. The good news is that the EPA might finally reign it in.

On Tuesday, George Torgun, Mike Sherwood, Erin Tobin, and Trent Orr were all in Fresno, California, defending salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. California's largest water district has asked a judge to temporarily suspend protections for the fish from February through May, when baby salmon migrate from the Sacramento River to the ocean.

2 Comments   /  
View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
04 February 2010, 11:53 AM
Household cleaner giants want to keep chemical ingredients secret

For more than a year, Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive and other household cleaner giants have been refusing to follow a New York law requiring them to disclose the chemical ingredients in their products and the health risks they pose.

When we asked them nicely, they ignored us or refused. When thousands of people across the country put the pressure on them, they responded with platitudes and still did nothing. And for almost a year, they've been fighting a lawsuit against them, slowing down the process whenever possible.

But today, both sides got their day in court, arguing the case before a Manhattan judge. Earthjustice attorney Keri Powell reminded the court that studies have linked chemicals commonly found in household cleaners to health problems like asthma and reproductive abnormalities. And that people deserve to know whether the products they use to wash their dishes, launder their clothes, and clean their homes could be harmful.

Industry's response: we'd rather wait until the authorities force us to provide the information.

7 Comments   /  
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
02 February 2010, 1:24 PM
Others stand up at EPA ozone hearing on behalf of victims

Imagine loving to garden but being unable to do so because the air outside your home is thick with ozone. Or a travel down the freeway literally taking your breath away because the pollution is just that unbearable.

Enter the life of Mary Theriault. The northern Virginia resident battles chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was supposed to testify at an EPA hearing today in Arlington on stronger ozone standards. But Mary was hospitalized due to a COPD flair-up.

Earthjustice's David Baron was among the first to testify, commending EPA for doing the right thing in proposing to strengthen clean air standards.

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