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One Year Anniversary of the Train Derailment in East Palestine, OH

Photo credit: Abigail Bottar / Ideastream Public Media

By Leila Waid.

It’s hard to believe that it has already been one year since the Norfolk Southern train derailed in the small and quiet community of East Palestine, OH. The community members have faced uncertainty and fear of how their health has been impacted by the exposure to toxins, such as vinyl chloride, present at the burn site. Burning vinyl chloride can produce dioxins, a chemical that poses immense danger to human health. Over the year, many residents have spoken out about the health risks they are experiencing, such as increased asthma in their children, skin rashes, bleeding from the ears, and new diagnoses of cancer. Also, residents have pointed out how the train derailment has impacted them financially. One of the residents, Ashley McCollum, talked with ABC News about how she has been displaced from her home for the past year. Unfortunately, Norfolk Southern, who had been paying for her and her family to stay in a hotel, said they would no longer fund her accommodations. Now Ashley and other displaced residents have a hard choice to make – return to the community they believe will make them sick or come up with alternative living arrangements with their own finances.


This harsh abandonment that many residents have experienced feels all the more infuriating when considering how much Norfolk Southern has spent on lobbying. According to Public Citizen, “the company and its subsidiaries spent $2,340,000 lobbying the federal government in 2023 – up 30% from the $1,800,000 it spent the year before.” Interestingly, no new railroad safety legislation was passed by Congress after the Norfolk Southern train derailed. One would imagine that when such a severe accident occurs that threatens the health of thousands of people, the policymakers would immediately work in a bipartisan manner to make sure that such an accident never happens again. Notedly, both the House and the Senate introduced bills to increase railroad safety, but a year later, those bills have not moved forward. House of Representatives member Marcy Kaptur directly connects the lack of action by Congress on the bills to the lobbying being carried out by railroad companies, such as Norfolk Southern.


Without stricter regulation, who knows when and where the next derailment might occur and which American town could be the next East Palestine.

Frustrated by the lack of answers and support, the impacted community in East Palestine created the Unity Council for the East Palestine Train Derailment. One of the most recent actions the Council undertook was a “ceremony of solidarity,” an event held on the first anniversary of the train derailment to raise awareness about the suffering the community is still going through. The Council wanted to showcase to the country that what happened in their community could happen anywhere in the country.


The ceremony was conducted in partnership with We Refuse to Die, an environmental justice campaign utilizing art to communicate the message. Artists and activists have a long history of working together effectively to enact change. By moving people emotionally, artists can tap into the feelings and emotions of individuals that motivate them toward change. In this case, the campaign was focused on showcasing that, just because individuals in East Palestine may have been forgotten about by the railroad industry and politicians, they are still here and will continue to fight until they can rebuild what was stolen from them by the explosion.

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Planetary Health and Environmental Justice

Photo source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2542519621001108

By Leila Waid.

Planetary health is a term used to define how human activity impacts the environment and, in turn, how those environmental changes impact human health. Utilizing a planetary health framework is essential for environmental health organizing because it uses a holistic approach to understanding the world and our place within it. The Planetary Health approach showcases that protecting our environment is not something we should do because it is simply the right thing, but we need to do it for our preservation and well-being. 

The air we breathe is littered with pollution from fossil-fuel industries. Even antibiotic resistance, a major emerging public health threat, has connections to air pollution. For example, a study found that PM2.5 (particulates in the air smaller than a strand of hair) contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Shockingly, the study found that “the magnitude of the contribution of PM2.5 to aggregate antibiotic resistance is greater than that of antibiotic use.”

Our waterways are full of plastics and PFAS, a group of forever chemicals that bioaccumulate in the body. The fish we consume are saturated with methylmercury due to humanmade activity, such as coal mining that dumps excess mercury into the waterways. And we keep pumping greenhouse gases into the environment, which causes warming and a disbalance in our delicate climate system. Interestingly, even the knowledge that we are driving the deterioration of the natural world causes stress and other mental health issues – a phenomenon coined “eco-anxiety.” On the other hand, being in nature does wonders for our mental health, such as decreasing anxiety and depression. 

So, what can be done? How can we keep our quality of life, with all our modern conveniences, while understanding that profound changes must be made to preserve the ecological world and our health? Two public health experts, Tong and Bambrick, weigh in on this issue in a peer-reviewed article, in which they provide four suggestions.

According to Tong and Bambrick, we first need to address the root cause of climate change globally and utilize different approaches based on regional and national contexts. Second, we must address environmental justice at all levels, from international to hyper-local. Third, we must understand that the entire world is interconnected, and we live in a “global village.” Our air and waterways do not have national boundaries, and the air pollution on one side of the world can eventually reach your backyard. Nowhere was this more apparent than the summer of 2023 on the east coast of the U.S. when the Canadian wildfire plume traveled south and made the air unbearably smoggy. The fourth, and final, suggestion states that we must take collective action at an international level. After all, these are not issues that one individual or country can tackle. Instead, we need to reimagine our way of life that is focused on being connected to our environment, respecting our limited natural resources, and protecting human health.

Planetary health lays out the vicious cycle that modern humans face. We have built our way of life not in tandem with the natural world but in its exclusion. And as a result, we face the health consequences of those choices. 

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Tech Triumphs: Online Innovations and Progress in Addressing the East Palestine, Ohio Train Derailment

By Gregory Kolen II.

In the face of unexpected challenges, the integration of technology has proven to be a game-changer, offering swift and effective solutions. The recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, underscores how online technology has played a crucial role in managing and addressing the aftermath of the incident. Let’s explore the various ways in which digital advancements have contributed to progress and resilience in the wake of the East Palestine train derailment.

  1. Real-Time Communication and Coordination:

Online technology has facilitated instant communication and coordination among various stakeholders involved in the response efforts. Emergency services, local authorities, and community organizations have utilized digital platforms to share crucial information, coordinate rescue operations, and update the public in real-time. Social media, in particular, has become a powerful tool for disseminating urgent information and connecting people in times of crisis.

  1. Crowdsourced Assistance and Information:

Online platforms have enabled the community to come together and offer support. Crowdsourcing initiatives, facilitated through social media and dedicated websites, have allowed individuals to share information about the incident, report on-ground situations, and coordinate volunteer efforts. This collective collaboration has proven instrumental in addressing immediate needs and providing aid to those affected by the train derailment.

  1. Mapping and Geospatial Technologies:

Digital mapping technologies and geospatial tools have been crucial in assessing the extent of the damage and planning effective response strategies. Satellite imagery, geographic information systems (GIS), and mapping applications have allowed authorities to visualize the impacted areas, identify potential risks, and allocate resources strategically. This precision in mapping has optimized the efficiency of rescue and recovery operations.

  1. Virtual Emergency Response Teams:

The rise of virtual emergency response teams has transformed the traditional approach to disaster management. Online platforms facilitate the creation of virtual teams comprising experts from diverse geographical locations who can collaborate remotely. These teams contribute their expertise in areas such as logistics, engineering, and environmental impact assessment, offering a comprehensive and well-coordinated response to the train derailment.

  1. Public Awareness and Safety Campaigns:

Online technology has played a pivotal role in disseminating public safety information. Emergency alerts, safety guidelines, and evacuation procedures have been efficiently communicated through various online channels, ensuring that residents stay informed and take necessary precautions. Social media campaigns and digital outreach efforts have contributed to raising awareness about the incident and the ongoing response efforts.

The East Palestine, Ohio train derailment serves as a testament to the transformative power of online technology in times of crisis. From real-time communication to crowdsourced assistance and innovative mapping solutions, digital advancements have significantly contributed to progress in addressing the aftermath of the incident. As technology continues to evolve, its role in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency response efforts is likely to become even more pronounced, offering hope for a more resilient and connected future.

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Backyard Monthly – January 2024

January 2024
CHEJ's "All In" - Spotlight of the Month

Welcome to this year’s first edition of our monthly digest at the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice in this exciting new year! As we step into 2024, our optimism is fueled by the incredible strides made by you. All of the inspiring stories, highlights of progress, and ongoing efforts by individuals and organizations at the forefront.

Our collective efforts continue to bridge gaps and amplify voices, ensuring that marginalized communities disproportionately affected by environmental issues are heard and empowered. Through education, advocacy, and innovative solutions, we’re building a more inclusive and resilient world.

Thank you for being part of our community, and let’s embark on this new year as we navigate the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, unified in our commitment to healthier, more equitable communities for all.

Toxic Tuesday

Endometrial cancer is an increasingly common form of cancer in developed countries. There are both genetic and environmental risk factors associated with the development of endometrial cancer, and changing the environmental… [Read more]

Backyard Talk Blogs

By Stephen Lester. By Stephen Lester. Nearly 10 months ago, a Norfolk Southern train with more than 150 cars, many of which contained toxic chemicals, derailed in East Palestine, OH. Thirty-eight of the train cars derailed and a decision[Read more]

The EJ Minute Podcast

COP 28, Indigenous Concerns over Clean Energy Infrastructure in New York, Cleveland’s Expanded Access to Recreational Water and Green Spaces[Listen Now]

Discussing attendance at the United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, more commonly referred to as COP28[Listen Now]

Do you find this information useful? Please consider pitching in and making a contribution to CHEJ. We appreciate your support!

Your contributions play a pivotal role in fueling our initiatives, enabling us to amplify voices, drive impactful change, and advocate for policies that prioritize both environmental well-being and social equity. 

Click here to make a donation today and be a catalyst for positive transformation. Your support, no matter the size, directly contributes to our ability to create meaningful, lasting change. With your generosity, we can expand our reach, empower communities, and work towards a future where everyone can thrive in a clean and just environment.

Thank you for being an integral part of our community. Here’s to a year filled with progress, impact, and collective success in creating a brighter, more equitable future.

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Backyard Monthly – December 2023

December 2023
CHEJ's "All In" - Spotlight of the Month

This year CHEJ introduced our new monthly newsletter, The Backyard Monthly. This newsletter was designed to provide you with an update on CHEJ’s monthly activities. Our blogs, monthly training calls, Toxic Tuesdays, EJ Minute Podcast and more can now all be accessed and viewed in one, digestible email. We would like to take a short look back on just a few of the many highlights from 2023.

CHEJ’s Science Director and toxicologist, Stephen Lester, has been participating in the community response to the Norfolk Southern train derailment that resulted in spilling five tanker cars of vinyl chloride on the side of the tracks and intentionally burning it in the town of East Palestine, OH. Stephen’s 40 plus years of scientific and environmental justice expertise has been covered by several leading news organizations.

Stephen presented “Truth and Consequences” at the Midwest Environmental Health Summit on June 3, 2023, hosted by Citizens for a Clean Wausau. See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMlDbkuD8bE

Our senior organizer and Small-Grants Manager, Teresa Mills, had also been engaging with Ohio-based environmental groups who are working with the East Palestine residents. Stephen and Teresa’s work is a prime example of what CHEJ has been doing for the past 42 years: providing scientific and organizing support to grassroots community-based organizations.

We were thrilled to reflect upon the remarkable success of the 2023 People’s Action Initiative Convention this past June! The purpose of this convention was to start an Organizing Revival to “re-ground the movement for multiracial democracy in the powerful skills and traditions of community organizing.” With a collective commitment to building a more just and sustainable future.

You don’t want to miss out on “Art Works”, by Ken Grossinger! This amazing book released earlier this year provides an inside look at the organizers and artists on the front lines of political mobilization and social change. Learn more and order a copy today!

Have you read “You Are Your Own Best Teacher” yet? In February, we highlighted the latest incredible book by social scientist and activist Claire Nader. Spark curiosity, imagination, and intellect by adding this book to your collection today

Remembering Teresa Mills

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice has recently lost a beloved member of our family, Teresa Mills, our Ohio-based At-Large Community Organizer and Smalls Grants Manager… Read More

CHEJ User Experience: We Would Like to Interview You!

We recently launched a successful User Experience Survey to better serve you, our CHEJ audience and community. Now, we’re shifting to individual Zoom interviews to gather diverse participant experiences. If you are interested in participating in an interview, please complete this short demographic questionnaire for consideration. Selected interviewees will receive a token of appreciation: a choice between a $20 gift card or a book signed by CHEJ Founder Lois Gibbs. Your perspective matters, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Toxic Tuesday

Acrylonitrile is a clear liquid that smells like onions or garlic. It is man-made as it does not naturally occur on Earth. It is used to create other materials, most commonly acrylic fibers in clothing and carpeting. Acrylonitrile can enter… [Read more]

We previously addressed individual variability and how it affects a person’s response to toxic chemicals. Another important factor in toxicology is a person’s individual sensitivity to chemicals. How sensitive a person is to chemical exposure… [Read more]

Training Calls

Gasification and pyrolysis are thermal processes that convert organic substances into fuels. These processes are highly controversial due to their impact upon air quality. They are also a major concern for the communities surrounding the facilities that use them…. [Watch now]

Backyard Talk Blogs

By Leila Waid. As a research project for a university course, I conducted a literature review and systematic analysis of the health effects of PFAS in drinking water. This blog post contains a highlight and broad overview of the health[Read more]

By Gregory Kolen II. Environmental justice is an issue that affects everyone, but those who bear the brunt of it are often the most vulnerable members of society. Disadvantaged communities, specifically, are often the ones living in[Read more]

The EJ Minute Podcast

Excessive rainfall brought flooding to New York City in late September, we investigate the environmental justice hazards posed by flooding[Listen Now]

We explore recent news covering wildfires, EJ areas in Pennsylvania, and Texas voters[Listen Now]

We go over President Biden’s National Climate Assessment, Michigan’s New Clean Energy Bill, Cancer Clusters in Houston Texas[Listen now]

Do you find this information useful? Please consider pitching in and making a contribution to CHEJ. We appreciate your support!

As we look ahead to the end of 2023 and into new year, we come to you with a humble request. Your generous donation can help us continue our work, ensuring that we can continue to fight for those who are most vulnerable to environmental injustices. Your contribution could provide us with the resources needed to advocate for cleaner neighborhoods, safer schools, and healthier lives for all.

In this season of giving, we ask that you consider making an end-of-year donation to CHEJ. Together, we can create a healthier and more just world. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support, and wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.

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How AI Can Help Strengthen Grassroots Organizing

Image Credit: Tensorspark

By Gregory Kolen II.

Environmental justice is an issue that affects everyone, but those who bear the brunt of it are often the most vulnerable members of society. Disadvantaged communities, specifically, are often the ones living in areas with poor air quality, contaminated water sources, and unregulated disposal of waste. These challenges have been longstanding and difficult to overcome, as they require significant resources and political will. Yet, in recent years, emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) have emerged to support community leaders and organizations working towards environmental justice.

Boosting activism through data: AI can assess and analyze vast amounts of data to help grassroots organizers tailor their messaging based on the demographics, behavior, and attitudes of their target audience. By better understanding the needs of the communities they serve, organizers can create more effective and convincing campaigns that are more likely to drive action.

Streamlining operations: Organizers can improve the efficiency of their operations and decision-making processes, allowing them to work more effectively and achieve their goals more quickly. AI can help organizers automate routine tasks, which saves time and energy, allowing them to focus on more complicated tasks that require human expertise.

Amplifying voices: Magnify the voices of marginalized communities with AI-powered chatbots. Amplify the stories and experiences of those most affected by environmental injustices. This can help grassroots organizers build empathy and support for their causes among those in power, as well as among the broader public.

Improving outreach: Organizers can reach out to a more extensive and precisley targeted diverse audience. AI-powered tools can help create more targeted promotional materials and reach out to individuals who might not have been reached through traditional methods. This can help organizers increase the reach of their initiatives and attract more support.

Identifying environmental issues in communities: AI tools can help communities identify and monitor environmental hazards in their surroundings. For instance, using machine learning and remote sensing technologies, it is possible to map and classify toxic hotspots or areas with high pollution levels. Real-time air and water quality monitoring sensors can also provide early warning systems that allow communities to take the necessary precautions.

Empower communities through data and citizen science: Citizen science is an approach that empowers communities to gather data, conduct research, and create solutions. AI tools can help democratize scientific research by enabling communities to communicate their findings and analyses. Collectively, high-quality data can be used to ascertain environmental health disparities. For instance, EarthAI, a nonprofit organization, aims to provide equal access to AI-assisted satellite imagery, which can be used to map and track environmental health indicators.

Influencing Policies: AI tools can be used to predict the impact of policies on marginalized communities. For instance, researchers can use machine learning models to identify areas where environmental policy interventions are most needed, based on critical community characteristics and environmental hazards. Such data and insights can be shared with policymakers to develop effective policies that prioritize environmental justice.

There are numerous ways that emerging AI technology can be used to help strengthen grassroots organizing efforts for environmental justice. From boosting activism through data analysis to amplifying voices and improving outreach, AI has the potential to help empower grassroots organizers and create more profound change by identifying environmental hazards, empowering communities through data and citizen science, influencing policies, raising advocacy and awareness, and reducing disparities. While AI is not a magic solution, it has the potential to create a pathway towards a more just future and better outcomes for all communities.

Additional information:

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Backyard Monthly -November 2023

November 2023
CHEJ's "All In" - Spotlight of the Month

Last month, we had the privilege of being joined by CHEJ’s Founder Lois Gibbs to lead an amazing training call on how to set fundraising objectives, identify the target audience, and discover appropriate opportunities to meet your fundraising goals. Here’s a summary of what Lois covered.

Individual donor fundraising is crucial for organizational stability and community support, providing unrestricted funds for various needs. It builds people power, expands volunteer bases, and boosts your influence with corporations and elected officials. In the U.S., 68% of charitable contributions come from individuals, even those with modest incomes, highlighting the importance of asking for contributions from your community. Don’t underestimate the potential support from your neighbors and local community members. Asking for money might be uncomfortable, but embracing both donor and fundraiser roles can significantly benefit your organization’s long-term success.

Overcoming resistance to fundraising and understanding your personal relationship with money is essential, and remember that it’s about your organization, not you. Assess your feelings when asking for or giving money. Develop a clear individual donor fundraising plan with specific goals, audience, strategies, and timelines. Personal stories matter when explaining your involvement in the cause. Practicing mindfulness and intuitive communication with potential donors is key, and always express gratitude and invite them to join your cause.

If you would like to see the full training call, you can view the replay here.

Your Voice is Needed:

The Unity Council for the EP Train Derailment wants you to let Jim McPherson know how you've been affected by the East Palestine train derailment

In the wake of President Biden’s executive order, Jim McPherson, a seasoned government official, has been delegated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to spearhead the recovery operations in East Palestine following the train derailment.

Time is of the essence, and we are keen to ensure that McPherson opens a line of communication with the affected inhabitants. If he genuinely engages and understands their plight, we remain optimistic that he will advise President Biden to declare a disaster. This is a pivotal step towards authentic recovery, as the declaration would unlock the provision of essential financial assistance and thorough environmental testing for the residents.

He only has until mid-November to make his recommendation. Email Jim McPherson today!

Toxic Tuesday

Over 10% of births worldwide are preterm, meaning delivery occurs earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy. It is a leading cause of neonatal mortality, and evidence suggests that exposure to heavy metals from the environment could be a risk factor[Read more]

Asphalt is made of a compacted “aggregate” mixed with a “binder.” The aggregate takes the wear-and-tear of traffic while providing a nonskid surface. It comes from rock quarries, natural gravel, and/or soil. The binder is a type of cement that holds the… [Read more]

Training Calls

Lois instructs attendees on how to establish fundraising goals, how to determine an audience, find relevant strategies, figure out the necessary amount of donors/donations, and construct a realistic timeline. As she says, “Without a timeline, non-profits are unlikely to succeed.”…. [Watch now]

Backyard Talk Blogs

By Stephen Lester. I’m often asked what it is that I do at CHEJ. As a trained scientist, I provide technical assistance to grassroots community groups. People send me their environmental testing data to review. This data spans chemicals foun… [Read more]

By Sharon Franklin. A recent New York Times series concerning fracking and water by Hiroko Tabuchi and Blacki Migliozzi explores the relationship between hydrofracking and our disappearing water sources.   Giant new oil and gas wells that requir[Read more]

By Juliet Porter. Climate scientists have discovered that Americans are using up groundwater faster than ever before in our history. Recently, the New York Times investigated this phenomenon by examining 84,544 monitoring wells… [Read more]

Do you find this information useful? Please consider pitching in and making a contribution to CHEJ. We appreciate your support!

Three years after a federal judge revoked the permit allowing for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River and ordered an environmental review, the oil still flows as it has since the pipeline began operating in 2017. Now, with the release of a new, and heavily biased, Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the American Army Corps of Engineers has opened a process for public comment.

The Native Organizer’s Alliance Action Fund is determined to flood the Army Corps with thousands of letters demanding the blockade and removal of the pipeline. No citizens within the Missouri River watershed should be in danger of their water source being ruined by contamination.  

And most certainly, the Standing Rock Sioux should have been consulted concerning this violation of their unceded and sovereign territory rights! Please join the demand to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline now!

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Backyard Monthly – October 2023

October 2023
CHEJ's "All In" - Spotlight of the Month

As the leaves begin to change and the air turns crisper, we welcome the arrival of fall. While this season brings a picturesque transformation of nature, it also brings certain challenges, particularly when it comes to chemical exposure. At CHEJ, our commitment to environmental justice extends to every season, and we want to ensure you and your community stay informed and protected.

 

Fall presents unique environmental risks due to changes in weather patterns, outdoor activities, and agricultural practices. Here are some important considerations:

 

1. Pesticides and Herbicides: Fall is a time when farmers often apply pesticides and herbicides to their crops. These chemicals can drift through the air and settle on nearby communities, posing health risks to residents. It’s crucial to stay informed about local agricultural practices and advocate for responsible and safe pesticide use.

 

2. Indoor Air Quality: As the temperatures drop, we spend more time indoors, where air quality can sometimes be worse than outdoor air. Poor ventilation, the use of certain heating sources, and the release of indoor pollutants from household products can lead to indoor air pollution. Proper ventilation and the use of air purifiers can help mitigate these risks.

 

3. Mold and Moisture: Fall’s damp weather can lead to increased moisture in homes, creating conditions conducive to mold growth. Mold can release harmful spores that affect indoor air quality and trigger respiratory problems. Regular home maintenance and addressing moisture issues promptly are essential.

 

4. Chemicals in Yard Care, School Supplies, and Household Cleaners: Several kinds of school supplies, lawn fertilizers, and cleaners may contain hazardous chemicals that can be abrasive or could have potentially dangerous effects on your child’s development. Be mindful of the products you use and their potential environmental and health impacts. Our August Training Call with the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) provides a helpful insight into what eco-friendly alternatives are available. You can also check out our resources on detoxifying your home and non-toxic cleaning.

 

As advocates for environmental justice, we encourage you to take steps to protect yourself, your family, and your community during the fall season. This includes staying informed about local environmental issues, advocating for responsible chemical use, and adopting eco-friendly practices in your daily life.

Toxic Tuesday

Particulate matter (PM) is a mixture of chemicals, dust, and liquid droplets that can be emitted into the air from automobiles, power plants, construction sites, smokestacks, and fires. When people breathe contaminated air, this PM gets lodged into[Read more]

Training Calls

In this Training Call, our former community organizer and current director of Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program, Mike Schade, further illuminates vinyl chloride pollution and how to hold corporations accountable using CHEJ’s past successful tactics…. [Watch now]

Backyard Talk Blogs

By Sharon Franklin. In July 2023, I wrote the blog, “There’s An Ethylene Oxide (EtO) Health Emergency in South Memphis, Tennessee.” In it, I discussed the air pollution created by the Sterilization Services of TN (SELC) in Memphis, Tennesse [Read more]

By Leila Waid. September is kicking into high gear, which means the summer season has ended, and fall is just around the corner. While summer is usually known for warm, sunny days that are perfect for vacations, this summer was quite[Read more]

By Hunter Marion. Nestled between the slow, muddy waters of the Trinity River and the noisy I-45, sits Joppa, TX. Pronounced “Joppee” by locals, Joppa is a neighborhood located at Dallas proper’s southernmost point. It was founded [Read more]

By Gregory Kolen II. Did you know that CHEJ offers audio discussions for you to listen to? The Fighting to Win podcast hosted by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) is where you will hear inspiring stories from environmental activist[Read more]

Do you find this information useful? Please consider pitching in and making a contribution to CHEJ. We appreciate your support!

The East Palestine and Ohio train derailments highlighted the widespread issue of vinyl chloride pollution in the US, often linked to corporate negligence. Mike Schade from Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program elaborated on this issue and the harmful impact of plastic pollution. He detailed how the program is pressing major retailers to curb toxic chemicals and plastics usage, and shared ways individuals can participate in protecting communities from such pollution.

This fall, let’s change the color of our future from the bleak grey of pollution to the vibrant hues of a healthy environment. Join CHEJ in our fight by donating today! Together, we can ensure a safer, cleaner world for ourselves and future generations.

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Fighting to Win

By Gregory Kolen II.

Did you know that CHEJ offers audio discussions for you to listen to?

The Fighting to Win podcast hosted by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) is where you will hear inspiring stories from environmental activists across the country.

Looking back to some highlights from prior episodes from this time of year:

EP 29 – Charles Utley

Charles Utley’s inspiring experiences and insights related to Environmental Justice! Utley grew up in Hyde Park, Georgia, a predominantly Black community. Many people worked at Southern Wood Piedmont Co., a company that used creosote and dumped their chemical debris into a stream that bordered Hyde Park. Listen now for more info!

EP 7 – Hilton Kelley

Hilton Kelley, Executive Director and Founder of CIDA, Community In-Power & Development Association, gave up his acting career to pursue environmental justice in his hometown of Port Arthur, TX. Listen now for more info!

EP 3 – Tackling TCE-Tainted Water in Tuscon’s Communities of Color

Learn about the health effects of drinking TCE-tainted water in Tuscon. Listen now for more info!

If you enjoy this audio content from CHEJ, let us know at chej2@chej.org more of what you’d like to hear!

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Backyard Monthly

Backyard Monthly – September 2023

September 2023
CHEJ's "All In" - Spotlight of the Month

As the summer begins to wind down and we approach a new school year, CHEJ continues to strive for safer, healthier environments for our children to learn and grow in. We recently hosted a free video training call in collaboration with our associates at the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN). The focus of this call was to raise awareness on the potential environmental hazards our children could be returning to in their schools this year.

In this important discussion, we delved into the unique vulnerability of children to environmental hazards, outlined common school hazards, and shared a wealth of educational and advocacy resources aimed at improving school environmental health. A standout resource presented during the call was CEHN’s Eco-Healthy Child Care® program, a vital initiative for promoting safer, healthier learning environments.

See the training call here

Community Survey!

CHEJ is launching a short survey that should take no more than five-to-ten minutes to complete. We want to hear from you, our dear friends, about your experience with our organization. How are we doing? What are we doing well and how can we improve?

This will be an opportunity for you to provide us with your valuable insight and help us create an even more amazing community of environmental justice fighters! We want to support you on your mission to save your community, and thus we need your feedback on how we can do that even more effectively. We look forward to hearing from you!

Our Backyard Monthly readers get the link here first: Take the Survey.

Petition to Declare East Palestine a Major Disaster

On July 3rd, Gov. Mike Dewine of Ohio sent a request for a disaster declaration in East Palestine to President Biden. The Unity Council of East Palestine, with help from OnlyOne, is petitioning Pres. Biden to approve of this request.  

Please sign this petition to show solidarity for a community reeling from ecological destruction, and to hold Norfolk Southern and the federal government accountable.

Toxic Tuesday

Selenium is a mineral found in most rocks and soil across the globe. It can be extracted and processed from rock for commercial and manufacturing uses. About half of the processed selenium in the world is used in glass production[Read more]

Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) is a compound in a group of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs like BaP are formed in the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, or other organic matter. Once formed, they can enter the air… [Read more]

Ethylbenzene is a colorless flammable liquid that comes from coal tar and petroleum. It is primarily used to synthesize chemicals that are used in plastics. Ethylbenzene can also be used in fuels and injection fluid, which is used to release natural gas… [Read more]

Training Calls

It is back-to-school season again! Thus, we find it necessary to bring awareness to all the potential environmental hazards our children… [Watch now]

Backyard Talk Blogs

By Stephen Lester. East Palestine, OH: A Scientist Speaks Out  The situation in East Palestine, OH remains very frustrating for many residents. They are trying to make sense of the contrast between what EPA tells them with the many adverse[Read more]

By Gregory Kolen. In the early 2000s, CHEJ identified PVC or polyvinyl chloride, a common plastic material used in school supplies, as a significant source of health risks for children. PVC contains toxic chemicals that can cause serious health[Read more]

Do you find this information useful? Please consider pitching in and making a contribution to CHEJ. We appreciate your support!

As we look forward to the month of September, let’s not forget the significance of Labor Day and its connections to the environmental justice movement. Yesterday, we celebrated Labor Day as reminder of the collective strength of workers who fought for fair working conditions, the same unity we now channel towards environmental justice.

Your generous donations enable us to continually fight for a world where both people and the planet are not exploited for profit. In the spirit of all that Labor Day represents, consider a contribution to CHEJ to support our relentless pursuit of environmental justice. Together, we can ensure a healthier, safer future for all. Thank you for being a part of this movement!