Toxins Lurking in our Homes – Keeping our Air Clean and Our Children Safe


As parents, we all try our best to give our kids healthy foods (with only the occasional “fall from the wagon” for junk food and candy!!) We also do whatever we can to keep our kids in healthy environments, particularly when it come to things we can control, like what comes in and out of our own homes. But our question to you, is this something that is REALLY in our control?

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How can we control, clean up and limit the toxins that are in the air that our children breath, and that come into our homes every time we open the windows or doors. These toxins settle on our children’s clothes, on their shoes, and lurk in the air our children breath, regardless of what we try to do to try to keep these toxins out and our kids safe…We often believe and trust blindly that our government is working to create and enforce the laws we need that will help us protect our children and clean up the air that they breath…but in REALITY is our government enforcing these laws and doing all they can to help us keep our children safe, or are there “forces” out there that are stopping this from happening….?!

Did you know that here in the USA:

The Clean Air Act, was established in 1970, and is the law that defines the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) responsibilities for protecting and improving the nation’s air quality. The last major change in the law was the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. However, many of these changes, from 1990, have yet to be enacted! Certain industries have lobbied for one extension after another in the name of “not hindering economic growth”…regardless of the actual costs to our health, welfare and to our ECONOMY because of the damages of not enacting these rules…!!

One air toxin in particular that these 1990 rules were intended to address is mercury, a “neurotoxin” that can damage children’s developing brains, cause a build up of methyl mercury in fish that then can also build up in women of childbearing age and impact fetal development. Other toxic chemicals and fine particle contamination that these 1990 amendments where intended to address include: arsenic, chromium and nickel that can cause cancer, lung damage and contribute to asthma and bronchial ailments.

In 1990, more than two-thirds of U.S. anthropogenic (human caused)

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mercury emissions came from three source categories: coal fired power plants, municipal waste combustion and medical waste incineration. According to the EPA, emissions reduction programs have been complied with successfully from the last 2 sources of emissions which have reduced their mercury emissions by more then 95% since 1990. However, many coal fired power plants continue to fight these rules and have refused to comply with them.

In the year 2000, the EPA issued a scientific and legal determination that it was “appropriate and necessary” to control mercury emissions from power plants. This legal determination also stated that the EPA was REQUIRED to develop standards that follow the law and the SCIENCE in order to protect human health and the environment. Finally, in December 2011, these standards were adopted.

According to the EPA, these standards, know as the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) are expected to avert up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks every year. In addition, the EPA tells us that “the value of these air quality improvement for people’s health ALONE totals $37-$90 billion each year; which means that for every dollar spent to reduce this pollution, Americans will get $3-$9 BACK in health benefits.” MATS will be the FIRST time that the federal government has enforced limits on mercury and other poisonous and cancer causing chemicals produced through the burning of fossil fuels.

As parents, we need to stand up and support these rules and THEIR ENFORCEMENT. As well, it’s time that not only coal fired power plants but all oil and gas producers are made to pay the full cost of being allowed to pollute. We need to stop allowing our air to be used as a sewer, free of charge. We need to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry as well. Just because we can’t see the pollutants entering our air, we know and see the effects of these pollutants in many ways, not least of which we witness first hand, IN OUR HOMES as our children suffer from increased breathing problems associated with asthma and allergies, which health officials and scientists tell us are triggered by these pollutants in the air directly, as well as indirectly through their impact in changing our climate, which is exacerbating these respiratory ailments as well.

As parents, we need to start “drawing the line” in the sand somewhere. One place to start is to support what the government is trying to do to enforce rules that are more then 20 years old that would help clean up our air and our environment. Make your voice heard on MATS. Don’t let industry try to weaken these standards that will benefit our economy, our environment and our and our children’s health.

Learn more, speak out, Sign the Moms Clean Air Force Petition today! To learn more about putting a cost on carbon, check out the Citizens Climate Lobby and the Save our Climate Act. Tune in on Monday, March 19th to listen to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and MomsRising at BlogTalk Radio where some of this will be discussed!

This post is inspired by Lori at Groovy Green Livin and is written in solidarity with all the participants in this months Green Moms Carnival. Please check out the Carnival, where you will find many wonderful and important ideas on other ways, products and opportunities to keep toxins out of your home!

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