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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.

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Backyard Monthly

Backyard Monthly – May 2023

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

This past April, we at CHEJ celebrated our 42nd Anniversary and our 53rd Earth Day! Although we as a nation have come so far in regards to environmental justice since 40-50 plus years ago, there is still so much left that we need to accomplish.

Vinyl chloride contamination in East Palestine. Plastics pyrolysis and chemical recycling in the Midwest. Oil, gas, and fracking waste in the Northeast and Gulf South. Our nation still suffers from an overabundance of communities marked as unworthy of protection from the government and big companies alike.

From making polluters pay to helping build a voice amongst those who are abandoned in these “sacrifice zone,” we at CHEJ are determined to get your voices heard and demands answered.

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

Toxic Tuesday

Acrolein is a toxic chemical that presents itself as a clear to yellowish liquid that evaporates quickly and is highly flammable. As it vaporizes, it has an unpleasant smell and tends to accumulate in low areas since it is heavier than air.[Read more]

The way scientists think about how chemicals cause their toxic effects is changing. Recent scientific research tells us that the traditional notion of how chemicals act is being replaced by a better understanding of the actual features of exposur[Read more]

Training Calls

In this call, we instruct you on how to use the EJScreen to see if you are living within a sacrifice zone. And if you are, we provide advice on how to use.[Watch now]

Backyard Talk Blogs

By Leila Waid. Climate change is one of the leading environmental challenges facing our world today. This will wreak havoc on all aspects of society and in some instances it already has from increasing droughts and wildfires to stronger storms and… [Read more]

By Sharon Franklin. On November 30, 2012, the community of Paulsboro, New Jersey thought the vinyl chloride clouds were fog after a train derailment caused a rupture in a tank carrying chemicals. Zoë Read, reporter for WHYY, recently posted an[Read more]

By Stephen Lester. Shortly after the horrific Norfolk Southern train derailment occurred in East Palestine, OH, I was invited to attend a town hall meeting organized by River Valley Organizing. The purpose of the meeting was to give people the… [Read more]

By Gregory Kolen. Environmental justice action has become increasingly visible in recent years as the effects of climate change and environmental degradation have taken center stage. As more attention is given to these issues, media cov[Read more]

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

On April 6, 1981, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) was established. Over the past 42 years, we have successfully supported over 10,000 communities and individuals through our campaigns and training programs. Our donors have made it possible for us to carry out our important work in community outreach, small grant programs, and training initiatives.

For a comprehensive look at all of our accomplishments from last year, you can read our 2022 Annual Report.

Last month, we celebrated Earth Day, but we don’t want to lose sight of the reality that every day is Earth Day! By making conscious choices and being mindful of our impact on the environment in our daily lives, we can make a difference. Let us remember that the choices we make every day can make an impact on the health of our planet, and let’s strive to leave our planet in better shape than we found it.

We are grateful for your support over the last 42 years, which has enabled us to assist grassroots organizations and advance their goals. Moving forward, we remain committed to fighting for environmental justice and building a better future for all. Thank you for joining CHEJ on this crucial journey!

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Backyard Monthly

Backyard Monthly – April 2023

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

Since February, 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. 

In summary, Stephen criticized the company’s “unconventional” approach to identifying where to sample for dioxins; asserted that Norfolk Southern is responsible for picking up the costs of the cleanup; offered insight into the EPA’s “lame excuse” for testing and their refusal to measure dioxin at the levels in soil that it can cause adverse health effects; and, provided a clear opinion on how citizens should take their next steps in regaining control of the narrative.

Our senior organizer and Small-Grants Manager, Teresa Mills, has also been actively 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.

Toxic Tuesday

Vinyl chloride is a chemical belonging to the family of compounds called organochlorides, which include other highly toxic chemicals including trichloroethane and the infamous pesticide DDT. Vinyl chloride is a man-made chemical that presents itself as a colorless and highl… [Read more]

Hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, is a process for accessing gas and oil deep within the earth. The process involves creating a well and drilling about one mile deep into the ground. Once it has been dug deep enough, cement is poured into the opening around a steel pipe to create… [Read more]

Training Calls

One of the most important things citizens have to arm themselves against hazardous environments is the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986. [Watch now]

Backyard Talk Blogs

By Sharon Franklin. By now everyone has heard or read about the disaster in East Palestine, Ohio (or as the residents call it “EP”) due to a Norfolk Southern Railway train derailment and later chemical spill. Daily we are learning more about how this freight trai… [Read more]

By Leila Waid. The train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, shows that our country is unprepared to address environmental emergencies adequately. Environmental disasters of the past show that accidents, just like human error, are inevitable…. [Read more]

By Hunter Marion. On March 12, 2023, ProPublica published an article in which CHEJ’s Science Director, toxicologist Stephen Lester, was commented as saying that “[Norfolk Southern] is responsible for the costs of cleaning up this accid… [Read more]

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

Last month, we celebrated Women’s History Month, it’s important to recognize and honor the history of women in the environmental justice movement.

From the fight for clean air, safe drinking water, toxic-free living conditions for their families and communities, to leading the way in groundbreaking research, organizing efforts, and policy advocacy.

Women have been instrumental in advocating for the rights of communities affected by environmental injustice every step of the way. Let us celebrate and thank them for their contributions to the environmental justice movement.

We hope that you have found the edition of Backyard Monthly informative and enjoyable to read. Our aim is to keep you updated on our latest initiatives and inspire you to join us in advocating for environmental justice. We kindly ask that you consider sharing it with your network and ask them to subscribe.

Please share this email with others. Together, we can make a difference in the fight for environmental justice and create lasting change!

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Backyard Monthly

Backyard Monthly – March 2023

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

We at CHEJ are excited to introduce our new monthly newsletter, Backyard Monthly! This newsletter is designed to provide you with an update on CHEJ’s monthly activities. Our blogs, monthly training calls, Toxic Tuesdays, and more can now all be accessed and viewed in one, digestible email.

Additionally, this newsletter is rolling out during an ongoing environmental crisis reminiscent of the one that created CHEJ: East Palestine, OH. Through this newsletter, we hope to illuminate our work with grassroots groups like those in eastern Ohio who are fighting for their right to live safe and toxin-free.

Toxic Tuesday

The last several issues of this series in Toxic Tuesday have addressed the difficulty in interpreting health risks when people are exposed to toxic chemicals. The last issue focused on the failure of the risk assessment approach to address these difficulties… [Read more]

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of toxic man-made chemicals that were used in industrial and commercial settings from 1929 through 1979 when their use was banned by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). During that time, this family of chemicals were… [Read more]

Training Calls

Since the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio last weekend, health studies are now more prescient to the general public. However, health studies… [Watch now]

Backyard Talk Blogs

By Jose Aguayo. Artificial turf fields have become the norm when it comes to athletic fields. They are everywhere here in northern Virginia and a reported 11,000 fields are in use in the entire country. I, myself, was just playing… [Read more]

By Stephen Lester. How many times have we heard the same refrain from government leaders and scientists involved in community wide exposures such as the recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. This incident resulted in vinyl chloride… [Read more]

By Gregory Kolen II. When it comes to non-profit communications, visuals can go a long way in increasing engagement. Good visuals provide potential supporters with an easy way of understanding the importance and urgency of the cause they are being… [Read more]

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

We want to thank everyone for their support so far, as it has been instrumental in helping us work toward a better future. Backyard Monthly, our new monthly digest email is evidence of your support in motion. Your donations have enabled us to continue our work, and we are so grateful for your generosity. We intend to use Backyard Monthly as a way to keep you up to date on a regular basis in one easy to read summary.

Please consider making a contribution to help us further our work. Together, we can make a difference in the fight for environmental justice and create lasting change!