Latin mothers among more than a million parents who fight against pollution

In recent years, the impact of pollution on our environment has become increasingly evident. Of course, we’ve all been told since we were kids that we have to take care of our planet, that we have to be careful not to litter and to remember to recycle, but at the time that seemed so far away of our lives. Now that we’re adults and feel like the effects of climate change are on our heels, many of us are making a more concerted effort to figure out how we can help. What can we do to reverse years of damage and hope to leave behind a safer and healthier world for our children and future generations of our families? Well, there might not be just one thing, but if we all commit to a few little things, we have the power to protect our planet. Especially if any of these things hold corporations, industries, and government accountable for their actions and choices, when they negatively impact the Earth. The environmental activism group, Moms Clean Air Force, empowers parents to do just that. It’s America’s largest and oldest group — with chapters in more than two dozen states — fighting air pollution and pushing for environmental justice.

The organization has now organized more than one million parents who are passionate about protecting our planet – and our children – including many Latinx parents, many of whom are personally impacted by this issue. In a 2022 report, the American Lung Association found that more than 14 million people of color live in counties that received failing grades for all ozone and particulate pollution, including nearly 10 millions of individuals who identify as Hispanic. Not only that, but 68% of Latinx people in the United States live in areas that don’t meet federal air quality standards, according to environmental group EcoMadres.

Many Latinx families live in urban areas where marginalized communities are extremely affected by air pollution from cars, factories and power plants. “Communities of color are often the first and most affected by air pollution,” said Yaritza Perez, EcoMadres representative and Florida State Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force. HipLatina. “People of color are nearly four times more likely to live in a county with poor air quality than white people.”

yaritza perez hiplatina
Photo: Yaritza Perez via Moms Clean Air Force

Why is this important? Because poor air quality can directly affect the health of people living in these communities. Perez tells us that air pollution can worsen asthma and respiratory illnesses and can even interfere with brain development and learning, which can lead to increased doctor visits, school days and missed work and the ongoing burden of healthcare costs, which many people in Latinx communities already face.

“For many, the situation is further exacerbated by lack of health insurance and language barriers,” Perez says. “Often many members of the Latin American community do not make the connection between air pollution and health effects due to lack of access to easy to understand, reliable and science-based information. in our language.”

Even more surprising is the fact that Latino children are 40% more likely to die of asthma than non-Latino white children, and nearly 10% of Latino children under the age of 18 suffer from chronic respiratory diseases. These statistics seem all too real, especially as we continue to navigate a pandemic in which communities of color and people with chronic respiratory conditions have done far worse than white communities and people who don’t. no respiratory diseases.

“These injustices motivate me to help raise our voices because no parent should accept this reality as inevitable for their child. We all deserve to live in an environment with clean air,” says Perez. is so important to me to educate our members, the public and our legislators about the harms of air pollution and the sources of pollution in our communities. As Latinos, we have a real and urgent need to speak out about the disproportionate burden we face.

By tapping into organizations such as Moms Clean Air Force and EcoMadres, Latinx parents can work together to inspire change on a larger scale and tap into the invaluable resources offered by the organization to leverage the power of numbers to call to environmental justice.

“We need air pollution protections at all levels of government,” Perez says. “We need strong investments in clean and renewable energy and in modern infrastructure to support this. For all of this to happen, we need to build the political will for clean air and a safe climate. »

While our Latinx children may be disproportionately affected by the negative effects of air pollution and climate change, these issues are relevant to all Americans and, indeed, the world as a whole. As global industries continue to grow and evolve, they can change the norm by choosing healthier and more sustainable business practices at all levels, or they can continue to use unsafe practices that put our children, our country and our planet in danger. destroy.

“As a veteran, I always say the work I do is critical to nation building,” Perez says. “It’s also patriotic. It’s patriotic to prioritize clean air and environmental justice so that no community can be left behind.

However, we cannot be ignored en masse, so when we as parents — as members of the Latinx community — unite and demand change, we will be heard. Our legacy, the health of our children, and the future of our planet are too important to be sacrificed and left in the hands of other people, who may prioritize money and power over the good of all. We can’t all be doctors and lawyers, but we can all be activists fighting for environmental justice.

“I believe that by coming together as Latino parents, we can have a voice at the table,” Perez says. “We are stronger together – so let’s raise our stories and unite to protect the health and future of our children.”

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