Everyone Wants Clean Air, Especially Latinos

It’s no mystery that clean air is good for all – who honestly wants more mercury, smog, arsenic, and other nasty toxics and metals invading their communities and wreaking havoc on their health? Is there such a thing as too much clean air? I don’t think so – and neither does the growing Latino population in the U.S.

Two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of participating in the National Latino Congreso in Austin, TX which is put on by some of the largest Latino organizations in the country. At this event, Latino community leaders from around the country gathered to discuss, learn, and take action on issues that are affecting the Latino population – anything from immigration policy to telecommunications. But I was especially encouraged by the amount of interest and passion around the issue that I was asked to speak on – the Clean Air Act.

Why were these folks so impassioned by this issue? Because Latinos are especially vulnerable to air pollution:
  • In 2004, 66 percent of Latinos (nearly 26 million people) lived in areas that didn’t meet the federal government’s air quality standards.
  • Because of high levels of pollution, Latinos haver shorter life spans and are three times more likely to die from asthma.
  • Latino children are 60% more at risk to have asthma and other respiratory issues.
  • According the American Lung Association, six of the top ten most polluted U.S. cities have Latino populations over 40%.
And Latinos know that clean air and EPA regulations are important to their communities:
  • A 2010 poll by the University of  Southern California showed that 75% of Latinos worry a great deal about air pollution.
  • A similar poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that 87% of Latinos believe government should regulate emissions.

Just two weeks ago, the EPA released new proposed limits for pollutants like mercury and arsenic. Cleaning up these pollutants is vital for the health of all communities but will especially benefit low-income and minority communities which are disproportionately affected.

TAKE ACTION TODAY and tell the EPA why clean air is important to you and why they should enact and enforce strong air toxic rules. You can  quickly send your comments by:

  1. E-mail: Comments may be sent by electronic mail (e-mail) to a-and-r-docket@epa.gov, Attention Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR- 2009-0234.
  2. Regulations.gov website (http://www.regulations.gov). Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  3. EPA Air and Radiation Docket Web Site ( http://www.epa.gov/oar/docket.html). Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

If you’re having trouble coming up with the right words then take a look at some sample language below and feel free to use them as your own!

I strongly support the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards that would limit mercury, arsentic, dioxin, and other toxic emissions from power plants.

Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of mercury contamination in the U.S, amounting to about 50 percent of emissions affecting humans and wildlife. The pollution settles on lakes, rivers and forests where it exposes fish and other wildlife and makes its way into the food chain. In many places, mercury warnings are increasingly common.

A highly potent neurotoxin, mercury adversely affects the function and development of the central nervous system in both people and wildlife. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to mercury exposure.

For too long, mercury and other toxic pollution has gone unchecked in America. It is time that we require power plants to clean up the pollution that is inflicting such devastating damage to our health and environment.

Thank you for moving forward with the proposed Mercury and Air Toxics standards. I urge you to move forward and finalize strong rules that reduce these harmful emissions. These pollution limits will be one of the largest steps forward in protecting our nation from toxic air pollution in a generation.