Backyard Monthly

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.

Backyard Talk Homepage

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 more of what you’d like to hear!

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!

Backyard Talk Homepage

A Look Back on CHEJ’s PVC-Free Program

Sam Suds and the Case of PVC: The Poison Plastic

By Gregory Kolen II.

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 problems, such as cancer and hormone disruption. CHEJ launched the PVC-Free schools campaign, led by Mike Schade, to raise awareness among parents, teachers, and school administrators about the dangers of PVC and to encourage schools to switch to safer alternatives. The program’s approach was a mixture of advocacy and education, aiming to empower communities to take action and create change.

The PVC-Free campaign was successful in building a large grassroots network of parents, teachers, and advocates who shared the vision of a healthier and safer school environment for children. CHEJ provided free resources and training to help schools assess their PVC use and find safer alternatives. Moreover, the program put pressure on major companies to reduce or eliminate their use of PVC in products through consumer campaigns and lobbying. 

Because of the success of the PVC-Free schools campaign, many students attend schools that have eliminated PVC materials or products. Additionally, the program has increased public awareness of the risks associated with PVC, prompting people to take safety measures in their homes as well. This created a ripple effect on the industry, encouraging schools’ suppliers to find alternatives to PVC, thereby, reducing the overall demand for PVC.

The PVC-Free schools program is just one of the many initiatives that CHEJ has undertaken to address environmental health and justice issues. One in a long history of advocating for vulnerable communities and neighborhoods affected by environmental pollution and hazards, supporting communities in the fight against toxic chemicals and influencing policies on environmental health regulations.

CHEJ’s PVC-Free safe schools program has effectively raised awareness of the dangers of PVC and paved the way for safer alternatives. The success of this campaign has demonstrated the power of community-led efforts to create change and protect children’s health. As we look forward, it’s essential to continue advocating and educating the public to minimize exposure to toxic chemicals. 

Backyard Monthly

Backyard Monthly – August 2023

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

We at CHEJ are thrilled to reflect upon the remarkable success of the 2023 People’s Action Initiative Convention last June! This year’s gathering of dedicated activists and community leaders was nothing short of inspiring. As an organization committed to environmental justice and empowering grassroots movements, we are eager to promote and share the valuable insights, knowledge, and discussions that took place during this convention.

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, we are excited to be a part of People’s Action Initiative’s efforts in amplifying the movement’s impact and ensuring that it continues to shape and invigorate environmental justice at all levels.

CHEJ's Second Round of Small Grants is Here!

We are still accepting applications for the second round of our 2023 Small Grants Program. You can access the applications here.

The deadline is August 14th, 2023, so there’s still time to get in your application in or book an informative session with our Small Grants Manager, Teresa Mills, at .

Toxic Tuesday

Considering cumulative exposures to low levels mixtures of chemicals is an enormous challenge when evaluating the toxicity of chemicals. Neither the EPA nor ATSDR have guidance on how to evaluate exposure to multiple chemicals[Read more]

Total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) are a family of hundreds of chemicals that come from crude oil. When crude oil is spilled during extraction or processing into petroleum products, TPHs can contaminate the environment. Becau[Read more]

Training Calls

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are an emerging public health threat. Nicknamed the “forever” chemicals, they have contaminated drinking water across the U.S. PFAS are toxic at extremely low levels… [Watch now]

Backyard Talk Blogs

By Leila Waid. 2023 has already brought many climate change-related natural disasters. From the wildfires in Canada that covered the U.S. in particulate pollution, to the record-breaking heat waves gripping many parts of the world, this year has shown[Read more]

By Sharon Franklin. For Rose Sims and Lettie White, residents of South Memphis, Tennessee, despite it being a sunny, spring day in their neighborhood, they make a point to stay inside as much as possible[Read more]

By Gregory Kolen, II. As the return to school approaches, parents and children alike are gearing up for a busy shopping season. While it can be fun to get new school supplies, clothes, and accessories, it’s essential to keep health and safety in mind [Read more]

By Hunter Marion. On June 22nd, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Arizona v. Navajo Nation (2023) that the United States was not responsible for securing access to clean, fresh water for the Diné people. This is yet another blatant attack[Read more]

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

As we prepare our children for the upcoming school season, it’s essential to remember that their safety extends beyond the classroom. It’s not just about equipping them with knowledge, but also ensuring they’re protected from harmful substances hidden in everyday school supplies. At CHEJ, we are deeply committed to safeguarding our children’s health and future.

Many common school supplies unfortunately contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), chemicals linked to health issues, from developmental problems to certain types of cancers. It’s truly alarming, and we believe our children deserve better. We aim to raise awareness about these harmful substances and advocate for safer alternatives. But to make this happen, we need your help.

With your generous donations, we can expand our reach, provide educational resources to parents and schools, and campaign against the use of PFAS and PVC in school supplies. Your contribution can make a significant difference in the lives of our children and their health.

On the next Training Call:

Our friends at the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) will discuss and share resources for improving school environmental health. Stay tuned for tips on how to protect children from toxics as you shop and prepare for the new school year.

Join us in our fight for environmental justice. Let’s ensure our children head back to school with safer supplies, for a healthier future.Thank you for your support!

Backyard Talk Homepage

Keep Your Family Safe: Top 5 Toxics to Avoid When Going Back to School Shopping

School supplies on blackboard background

By Gregory Kolen II.

As the return to school approaches, parents and children alike are gearing up for a busy shopping season. While it can be fun to get new school supplies, clothes, and accessories, it’s essential to keep health and safety in mind. Unfortunately, many common products sold for school use contain harmful toxins that can jeopardize your family’s well-being. Here are the top 5 toxics to avoid when shopping for back to school items.

  1. Phthalates – These chemicals are commonly found in plastic-based products like backpacks, lunch boxes, and water bottles. While they may help the products last longer, they also interfere with the body’s endocrine system and can cause hormone imbalances. Instead, look for products made with natural or organic materials.
  2. Flame retardants – These chemicals are often added to items such as bedding, carpets, and school uniforms to prevent fire. Unfortunately, they can have serious health risks, including endocrine disruption and developmental problems. To avoid them, look for products labeled as flame-retardant-free.
  3. Lead – Lead can be found in older school supplies such as ink and painted pencils. Be sure to check each item for lead paint or materials. If possible, choose newer products with quality markings and certifications.
  4. Formaldehyde – Commonly used as a preservative and adhesive, formaldehyde can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, and even cancer. It is often used in furniture, clothing, and classroom supplies. To avoid it, look for products labeled as formaldehyde-free or made from natural materials like solid wood and cotton.
  5. Bisphenol A (BPA) – BPA is another chemical commonly found in plastic items like water bottles, lunch boxes, and food containers. It can disrupt the endocrine system and lead to developmental problems in children. Look for BPA-free products made of glass or stainless steel instead.

Keeping your family safe and healthy while shopping for back to school is essential. By avoiding harmful toxins such as phthalates, flame retardants, lead, formaldehyde, and Bisphenol A, you can be more confident in your school supplies purchase. Look for natural, organic, and high-quality products, and always read labels and certifications to ensure you’re getting the safest option. Shop smart and start the new school year off right!

Backyard Monthly

Backyard Monthly – July 2023

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

CHEJ’s Science Director, Stephen Lester, 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:

Stephen later toured Wausau’s Thomas Street neighborhood and Riverside Park, after an updated risk assessment released by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, outlined a serious concern for children and adults who use the space.

CHEJ's Stephen Lester tours a west-side neighborhood where contamination has been reported. Photo credit: Collin Massad

Read the Wasaus Pilot and Review’s coverage of Stephen’s visit.

You don't want to miss out on Art Works, by Ken Grossinger!

An inside look at the organizers and artists on the front lines of political mobilization and social change. Learn more and preorder a copy today!

Toxic Tuesday

Total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) are a family of hundreds of chemicals that come from crude oil. When crude oil is spilled during extraction or processing into petroleum products, TPHs can contaminate the environment. Becau[Read more]

Glyphosate is a chemical found in weed killer products such as RoundUpTM used on farms and home lawns. It gets absorbed by plant leaves, stopping plant growth within hours. Because of its effectiveness, glyphosate is found… [Read more]

Training Calls

The goal of this Training Call was to introduce grassroots organizers to the tools and language used amongst UX professionals so that they could improve their online presence, recruitment, and connecting with their base[Watch now]

Backyard Talk Blogs

By Hunter Marion. In 2021, California passed a law restricting the use of the classic recycling symbol upon products that are not truly recyclable. Last May, this law, and substantial complaints over the years, triggered an official comment by[Read more]

By Stephen Lester. In a major win for grassroots community groups throughout the country, the USEPA decided last week to withdraw its plan to relax clean air regulations applying to pyrolysis and gasification facilitie[Read more]

By Sharon Franklin. Tim Carpenter, reporter for the Kansas Reflector, recently reported a massive oil spill that is distorting a Kansas couple’s confidence in the integrity of the Keystone pipeline. The rupture of TC Energy’s 36-inch steel pipe has released [Read more]

By Leila Waid. It may come as a surprise that one of the biggest challenges facing environmental and public health is our judicial system – specifically the current U.S. Supreme Court. Out of the total nine Justices, six[Read more]

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

As we gear up to celebrate the 4th of July, a day that symbolizes freedom and independence, we invite you to reflect on the true essence of liberty and responsibility. 

At CHEJ, we are committed to environmental justice, a cause that lies at the intersection of social equity, human rights, and ecological balance. We believe that every individual, regardless of their background, deserves clean air, safe water, and a healthy environment in which to thrive. Unfortunately, many communities, especially those marginalized and economically disadvantaged, are disproportionately burdened with environmental pollution and the devastating impacts of climate change.

This Independence Day, we invite you to embrace the spirit of freedom and extend your support to our mission of achieving environmental justice for all. Your generous donation will enable us to:

  • Empower Communities to become advocates for their environmental rights. 
  • Create a network of informed citizens who can engage in meaningful dialogue with policymakers and promote sustainable practices.
  • Participate in policy discussions working towards the implementation of just and equitable environmental regulations. 
  • Raise awareness among lawmakers and shape legislation that protects our environment and safeguards the rights of vulnerable communities.
  • Develop educational programs that empower young minds to become future environmental justice stewards. 

Your donation, no matter the size, will make a significant impact and contribute to a more just and sustainable world. 

Consider making a contribution today!

This Independence Day, let us come together to honor the spirit of freedom and independence by choosing to create a future where every person can breathe clean air, drink safe water, leading to happier and healthier communities.

We wish you a joyful 4th of July!

Backyard Monthly

Backyard Monthly – June 2023

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

This month, we want to highlight one of the cornerstones of our organization’s approach: our Training Calls. These calls not only equip grassroots organizers with vital knowledge and skills but also serve as invaluable platforms for connecting organizers across different regions.


By fostering a sense of collective power and learning from diverse experiences, we are able to create a stronger and more unified environmental justice movement nationwide. More specifically, this past month we hosted a call on East Palestine elevating the voices of residents working on the ground to rectify the wrongs committed by Norfolk Southern and the EPA against their rural community.


Join us as we continue to use our platform to explore the incredible journeys of community leaders and witness how their individual struggles fit together to form a tapestry of resilience and determination. All of our recorded calls can be accessed on our Training Call webpage.


For more information about our services and accomplishments, please read through this latest edition of Backyard Monthly.

Toxic Tuesday

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE) are chemicals that are flame retardants – meaning they are added to different materials to make them less susceptible to fires. PBDEs are found in various everyday materials, such as furniture.[Read more]

While getting cancer, liver disease or central nervous system damage is often associated with exposure to toxic chemicals, one of the most sensitive targets of toxic chemicals is the reproductive system. This has long been recognized for over… [Read more]

Training Calls

Last February, a 150-car freight train with 20 or so tanker cars carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, OH. Local resident Jami Wallace, who experienced the accident and the intentional burn, and Amanda Kiger, from River Valley Organizing, shared their experiences after thi.[Watch now]

Backyard Talk Blogs

By Stephen Lester. Since immediately following the train derailment and intentional burn of toxic chemicals in East Palestine, OH, the USEPA has betrayed the public’s trust in government. The agency has put out a steady stream of statements[Read more]

By Sharon Franklin. In a recent op-ed, by Kamea Sibley Ozane and Roishetta Sibley Ozane in Teen Vogue, a Louisiana mother and daughter are followed on how they got involved in climate activism. Kamea is a 10-year-old who lives in Sulphur[Read more]

By Leila Waid. Pesticides are defined as “any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The US uses many different [Read more]

By Gregory Kolen. Climate change and environmental degradation pose a serious threat to our communities and the world as we know it. Environmental justice has become a cause for many people who want to preserve nature and keep our planet[Read more]

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

42 years ago Lois Marie Gibbs knocked on her neighbors’ door to discuss what was happening to their Love Canal community. She galvanized her neighbors, they spoke up, held protests, assembled and demanded the federal government respond to the needs of the people and not to the greed of corporations. Now, 42 years later we are still fighting that same fight all over the country. You can just ask the people of East Palestine. Who are today’s victims of one of the worst toxic catastrophes in the country.

CHEJ continues to be committed to spending our time fighting the rollback and safeguards of the previous administrations and support proactive efforts for environmental justice. However, in these challenging times, we continue to need your help to move as quickly as possible to seize the moment and win as many cleanups of contaminated sites, before EPA prioritizes other issues.

Of course, the communities that we assist are saying “we can’t move fast enough” and that is why we need your assistance to take advantage of this window of opportunity. Due to the pandemic, support has changed in the last 3 years, but the needs remain great and it makes your contribution of $250, $150, $50 or whatever you can afford go a long way in providing the resources to push EPA to act at sites where people are being poisoned every single day.

Consider making a contribution today!

Now is the time to turn up the pressure to demand and win some real concrete health protections and cleanups for Unequal Response, Unequal Protection communities, like those in East Palestine and Bridgeport, Ohio.

Backyard Talk Homepage

5 Easy Ways to Support the Environmental Justice Causes You Care About at No Cost

By Gregory Kolen II.

Climate change and environmental degradation pose a serious threat to our communities and the world as we know it. Environmental justice has become a cause for many people who want to preserve nature and keep our planet safe for future generations. However, not everyone knows how to get involved and make a difference. Here are five easy ways to support the environmental justice causes you care about without spending a dime.

  1. Educate Yourself: The first step to supporting any cause is to become well-informed about its issues. Take some time to research and read about environmental justice causes. Understand the problems and challenges within the community you want to aid and advocate for change. By educating yourself, you will be able to help raise awareness and share important knowledge with others.
  2. Follow and Share Social Media Accounts: In today’s world, social media is a powerful tool to spread information, and it is one of the easiest ways to support environmental justice causes. Follow and share social media accounts of organizations that align with your values and share their posts encouraging people to get involved. You can help to amplify their voices and inspire more people to support the cause.
  3. Vote for Environmental Justice: Your vote plays a significant role in shaping policies that affect the environment. It is essential to vote for political candidates who prioritize environmental protection and support the principles of environmental justice. Find out your representatives’ stances on the environment, and if they don’t prioritize it, encourage them through phone calls and emails to do so. You can also hold them accountable and use your power as a constituent to push for the change we need.
  4. Sign Petitions and Online Campaigns: Signing online petitions is another great way to support the environmental justice causes you care about. Petitions can help catalyze action and drive change on campaigns. Share petitions with your network and encourage them to sign as well. You can also create an online petition when you want to bring more attention to a specific cause.
  5. Volunteer and Attend Organizational Events: Finally, volunteering and attending events organized by environmental justice organizations can also be a great way to show your support. Many organizations offer volunteering opportunities such as fishing out plastic from waterways or restoring habitats. Attend rallies, marches, and demonstrations. Attend their meetings and events where you can build relationships with like-minded people and learn more about the cause.

There are so many ways to support environmental justice causes at no cost. From educating yourself to signing online petitions and attending events. Together, we can make a difference and bring about a better, healthier world for all. Let’s work collectively to protect our planet. Take action today and encourage those around you to join you in supporting these environmental justice causes.

Toxic Tuesdays

Transgenerational Toxicity

Toxic Tuesdays

CHEJ highlights several toxic chemicals and the communities fighting to keep their citizens safe from harm.

Transgenerational Toxicity

While getting cancer, liver disease or central nervous system damage is often associated with exposure to toxic chemicals, one of the most sensitive targets of toxic chemicals is the reproductive system. This has long been recognized for over 50 years (123). In recent years however, research has shown that toxic chemicals can not only directly affect the reproductive system of both women and men, but that these effects can be passed on to the next generation and can even skip a generation. The impact of toxic chemicals on children with no direct exposure to these chemicals is known as a transgenerational effect.

A recent review paper reported that research on chemical toxicity, early life nutrition, smoking and radiation found evidence of harm even in offspring with no direct exposure to specific contaminants. This paper pointed to groundbreaking research at Washington State University that helped establish the principle of transgenerational toxicity by showing that the effects of toxic chemicals can extend even to the third generation of offspring. Other review papers have found a growing body of evidence from epidemiological studies that suggests that environmental exposures early in development have a role in susceptibility to disease in later life and that some of these effects seem to be passed on through subsequent generations (67).

One important study that made this clear was a follow-up study on the residents of Love Canal in Niagara Falls, NY. This study, conducted by the New York State Department of Health (DOH), found that maternal exposure to chemicals from the Love Canal landfill was associated with an elevated risk of bearing a child with an adverse reproductive outcome. The researchers found that women who lived in the designated emergency zone while pregnant prior to the time of evacuation had a higher risk of having a preterm birth compared to women from other regions of the state. This effect was statistically significant.

There was also a greater than expected frequency of congenital malformations among Love Canal boys born from 1983 to 1996. These birth defects occurred in infants born to mothers who previously lived at Love Canal. The rate of these birth defects was about 50% higher than in boys born to mothers who lived in upstate NY. In addition, the ratio of male to female births was lower for children conceived at Love Canal. Lastly, women exposed as children had an increased risk of giving birth to a low weight baby.

These findings are consistent with the initial findings at Love Canal that led to the evacuation of the community in 1978 and 1980. The initial findings identified lower birth weight and increased congenital birth defects in infants, but were limited in defining the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes because of small sample sizes.

This study is extraordinary because it looked at the reproductive outcomes of women after their exposure had stopped compared to other studies which typically evaluate health effects at the time when exposures were ongoing. In some cases, exposures to Love Canal chemicals occurred only when the women were children! These remarkable findings point out the subtle impact of exposure to toxic chemicals. They are a red flag for health concerns – especially for women of child bearing age – at other contaminated sites across the country. This study also highlights how little we really know about low level exposures to toxic chemicals.

Learn about more toxics