Take Action: Don't Let Big Polluters Trash Our Lungs

Tell the EPA by Aug. 3 to protect communties from waste burning

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City-dwellers are intimately familiar with the pros and cons of living with neighbors. Their heavy footsteps thunder overhead, their loud music penetrates the walls, and strange odors sometimes drift down the halls. These are nuisances, no doubt, but not all neighborly disturbances are so innocuous.

Consider, for example, communities across the country that live near chemical plants, paper mills and other polluting industries. Air pollution from these industrial neighbors often results in higher rates of asthma and other serious illnesses in local communities.

Sadly, a recent rule proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could leave such communities exposed to unregulated toxic emissions from the burning of scrap plastics, used chemicals, and other industrial wastes. These emissions contain pollutants like mercury, benzene, lead and dioxins that can cause respiratory illness, birth defects, cancer and other serious health problems.

Polluting industries have for decades pressured the EPA to allow burning of industrial wastes without control, monitoring and reporting requirements. If the agency’s rule is finalized, the wishes of polluting industries will largely be granted: more than 180,000 facilities nationwide could burn industrial wastes—without protective pollution controls in place—in on-site incinerators to generate heat or electricity for their operations.

You can help keep this dangerous rule from going forward. The agency is accepting public comment on this proposal until Aug. 3. Send them a comment today and tell them to protect public health rather than grant favors to polluting industries. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Most people don’t burn their household waste because they realize the toxic fumes generated are hazardous to their families and neighbors. Industrial facilities should be required to extend the same courtesy to their neighbors. Take action today!

Sam Edmondson was a campaign manager on air toxics issues from 2010 until 2012. He helped organize the first 50 States United for Healthy Air event. His desire to work at an environmental organization came from the belief that if we don't do something to change our unsustainable ways, we are in big trouble.

Earthjustice’s Washington, D.C., office works at the federal level to prevent air and water pollution, combat climate change, and protect natural areas. We also work with communities in the Mid-Atlantic region and elsewhere to address severe local environmental health problems, including exposures to dangerous air contaminants in toxic hot spots, sewage backups and overflows, chemical disasters, and contamination of drinking water. The D.C. office has been in operation since 1978.