In Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, internationally recognized biologist Sandra Steingraber reflects on how caring for her own family led her to tough realizations and hard choices. She links key events in her children’s lives—leaving a beloved preschool due to chemical contaminants on the playground, learning to appreciate organic produce—with broader environmental concerns, shedding new light on the factors affecting both human health and the health of the planet. From bug spray, to “tuna salad: the new lead paint,” to her own deck made of pressure-treated wood (which contains the carcinogen—and developmental neurotoxicant—arsenic), Steingraber outlines the various hazards that lurk in most houses and backyards. But as she explains, no mother or father can foolproof a home. In her words, “I am a conscientious parent. I am not a HEPA filter.” That’s why, instead of shopping tips and websites to consult, she calls for “federal regulations that assess chemicals for their ability to alter puberty before they are allowed access to the marketplace,” a ban on horizontal slickwater hydrofracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”), and “chemical reform based on precautionary principles.” She also highlights a growing child’s special needs and vulnerabilities, observing that many doctors, scientists, and governing bodies assume “all members of the population basically act, biologically, like middle-aged men.” At once a call to action and a poignant meditation on the simple joys of motherhood, Raising Elijah helps us see the little changes we can make and, more importantly, the enormous—but not impossible—changes we must demand. In this segment of The Organic View Radio Show, host, June Stoyer will speak to Author, Sandra Steingraber.
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