By Mahealani Daniels, League of Conservation Voters
Most families use bleaching wipes, antibacterial soap, and a multitude of other cleaning products in order to chase away the germs invading our homes. But last week at the “People Over Polluters Forum,” Democrats in the House of Representatives highlighted a health threat that we can’t wash away with a cleaning spree: the air and water within our houses can be polluted with foreign agents.
Brought together by their commitment to understanding and addressing the current challenges to our health and environment, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representatives Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Jared Huffman (CA-2), and Donald McEachin (VA-4) led this event, providing those whose health has been affected by a polluted environment an opportunity to share their stories with decision makers. The members of Congress participated in the forum by listening to peoples’ testimony and highlighting the adverse impacts that the current administration and its corruption have had on our public lands, natural resources, and the environment as a whole. Leader Pelosi clearly described the administration’s outlook on environmental and public health protections when she said that “the Trump Team puts polluters before people and prioritizes corporate interests before individual and personal issues.”
The testimonies of people impacted by rollbacks of our environmental and public health safeguards hammered home the importance of these protections. One of the most powerful stories was from Logan Sheehan, who was exposed as a child to vinyl fluoride that flooded the air in his family’s home after a truck carrying these chemicals overturned near their house. His mother, Trisha, couldn’t shelter her family from this contaminated air and officials continually assured her that the air was not toxic. While the deceptively sweet smell of this chemical has faded from their home, health scares, such as neurological and speech issues, continue to linger for her sons.
Peggy Price told a similar story about being unknowingly exposed to PFAS water contamination. Not only has this contamination impacted Peggy, but it has also predisposed her children to a multitude of challenging health concerns. An additional testimony was given by Dr. Christy Sadreameli, who stressed the importance of the Clean Air Act and reducing pollution so that the experiences of the Sheehan and Price families do not become prevalent across the United States.
Robert Garcia, the founding director and counsel of The City Project, closed out the forum with an inspiring speech that connected the right to a clean and safe environment to the bigger fight for the future of our country. He emphasized that “the civil rights fight is not over, it is just beginning,” and ensuring everyone has access to clean water to drink, safe air to breathe, and a planet with a livable climate is a key piece of that fight.
This powerful meeting illuminated the crucial importance that clean land, air, and water have for the survival of current and future generations. We appreciate the members of Congress, like those who led this forum, who are stepping up to push for a healthy planet for all future generations.