We often hear about how environmental pollution disproportionately affects low income people and minority groups -- but rarely do we see the names and faces behind the statistics. Now, a new study is putting numbers to names -- five famous names, that is, of leaders in the environmental justice movement.

The number: 48 toxic chemicals found in the blood of 5 minority women leaders. According to Environmental Working Group, the nonprofit that commissioned the study, "All of the women were contaminated with flame retardants, Teflon chemicals, synthetic fragrances, the plastics ingredient bisphenol A and the rocket fuel component perchlorate."

The names:

  • Beverly Wright, sociology professor and environmental author in New Orleans
  • Jennifer Hill-Kelley, policy analyst at Oneida Nation near Green Bay, Wisc., and  senior fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program
  • Suzie Canales, a founder of Citizens for Environmental Justice in Corpus Cristi, Texas
  • Jean Salone, a key witness who helped indict Citgo for sidestepping environmental regulations
  • Vivian Chang, executive director of Asian Pacific Environmental Network in Oakland, Calif.
These women are literally carrying in their blood the toxic chemicals they're fighting to remove from the environment. On EWG's site, you can get the details on the chemicals each of these women had running in their blood -- juxtaposed with the stories of the women's environmental justice work.

EWG's larger goal behind this project is to reform our current laws that aren't adequate for protecting public health. Pointing out that the chemicals found in these women's bodies "have escaped effective regulation under the antiquated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)," EWG says its new findings "could well mark a turning point in the increasingly heated debate unfolding in Washington over the reform of the nation's 33-year-old chemical safety law that, in a recent shift, even the chemical and plastics industries concede must be modernized."

Want to help us reach that turning point? Then join EWG's fight to reform TSCA. EWG's pushing for the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act, which would overhaul the U.S.'s chemical regulatory law requiring chemical safety testing, proof of chemical safety from companies, and better EPA oversight for consumer products.

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