Some days the air we breathe is so poor, our families are forced to stay indoors, shutting our windows tight to protect our loved ones with respiratory illnesses. We are hardly alone: half of the 58 million Latinos in this country live in our smoggiest cities. LA ranks worst of those cities. Because of this, our families face a disproportionately higher risk of asthma, bronchitis and even death from air pollution. That’s why clean air protections are both real and really personal for us. They are a matter of life and death.
President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the leadership of Scott Pruitt, is undoing vital protections that protect our children and our communities. Recently, the agency announced it would be permitting chemical polluters to put more mercury, lead and dioxin in our air than the Clean Air Act allows. The agency is also undermining national standards that ensure cars produce less pollution over time — with the encouragement of American carmakers. As moms who spend too much time behind the wheels of our cars, we can assure you the last thing we need is dirtier and fewer fuel-efficient cars.
Why? Cars that are not fuel-efficient produce more vehicle exhaust. More exhaust means more ways for pollutants to lodge themselves deep in our lungs and move into our bloodstream and brain, harming our health. And it’s the most vulnerable among us — our children and those with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases — who bear the biggest brunt. Children face special risks from air pollution because their lungs are growing and more active.
Change is up to us
But rather than protecting us from dirty air, the current EPA is making it easier for pollutants to harm citizens without repercussions. People in communities like ours are at risk getting sick and dying from pollution exposures. This is unacceptable. What we want is for our children to grow up breathing clean air and running around outdoors without a care. That’s every parent’s dream and every child’s right.
There’s never been a more important time to raise our voices as mothers against the air pollution that harms our children. And as Latina moms in particular, we know that our community needs to be vigilant now more than ever.
Angeles Zaragoza, Member, Moms Clean Air Force; Maria Guzman, Community Health Educator, Pacoima Beautiful, [email protected]