Protecting Kids from Traffic and Polluted Air

Share Carolina Martinez’ conversation with Yesenia Ceballos and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

Yesenia Ceballos had long been concerned about her children’s safety negotiating the traffic and toxic paint vapors coming from the auto body and repair shops in her neighborhood near the port in Old Town National City, California. She was intrigued when she met up with friends who were celebrating a hard-won victory to have street lights and crossing signs to protect children from the traffic. She asked them why their t-shirts all said “EHC,” and that began her involvement with the Environmental Health Coalition.

Carolina Martinez, Policy Advocate with Environmental Health Coalition in National City California, spoke with Yesenia Ceballos, environmental justice promoter in Old Town National City about what motivates her to improve quality of life in her neighborhood. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on StoryCorps.me.

YESENIA CEBALLOS: Tenemos los talleres de mecánica, talleres de carrocería y pintura, talleres de soldadura, tenemos muchos contaminantes, tenemos el freeway 5 que está muy cerca de aquí de nuestras escuelas, de nuestras casas. Entonces tenemos revuelto lo que son casas y negocios, entonces eso es una bomba constante para nuestros niños … Por ejemplo, yo vivo a dos calles, a dos casas de ahí de ahí de uno de estos talleres, en donde pintan barcos. Entonces, todo ese olor de pintura sale, diariamente están pintando carr—barcos, igual carros también hay muchos talleres cerca. Entonces, a tres casas más está la escuela, entonces todo esto lo están respirando nuestros niños cuando salen a hacer su deporte, ellos están respirando todo esto. Entonces, si juntamos lo del freeway, lo del puerto, porque también tenemos un puerto cerca. Entonces, si juntamos todos esos contaminantes, es algo que está dañando nuestros niños, sus pulmones, que puede causarles asma, son muchos factores que tienen ellos.

 

YESENIA CEBALLOS: There are mechanical workshops, paint and body shops, welding shops, and there are many contaminants, and on top of that Freeway 5, which is very close to our schools and our houses. Therefore, we lived on top of each other, houses and businesses scrambled together, which was a ticking bomb for our children … For example, I live two blocks away, two houses from one of these repair shops, where they paint ships. Every day, all that paint odor comes out, because of all the paint they use for ships, and there are also many paint shops for cars nearby. Three blocks after, there is the school. So all our children are breathing this when they go out and play sports, they are breathing all of this. Then, if we combine the pollution from the freeway and the port–because we also have a port nearby–, well, if we combine all these, it is really harming our children. Damaging their lungs, which can cause asthma, there are many factors involved.

 

Es una lucha constante hacer que estas industrias y negocios tengan en cuenta nuestro bienestar. El puerto tiene un gran impacto en la salud de nosotros, y debe tomar responsabilidad con sus vecinos. Pero esto no pasa si nosotros no estamos ahí, luchando, participando para que este cambio se pueda hacer. Nosotros también tenemos derecho a vivir en una comunidad saludable. 

 

It is a constant struggle to make these industries and businesses aware of our wellbeing. The port has a major impact on our health, and we should take responsibility for our community. However, this will not happen if we are not there, fighting and participating to make this change happen. Because we also have the right to live in a healthy community.

PLEASE JOIN Carolina and Yesenia in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation using the social media buttons above to show your support for #ZeroEmissionsNow.

LEARN MORE about the work they are doing to improve the quality of life in San Diego County by following Environmental Health Coalition.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

Environmental Health Coalition hosts Climate Change Workshop in Barrio Logan

The Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), located in the Barrio Logan community of San Diego, fights for social and environmental justice, and against environmental racism, “policies and activities of governments, corporations, educational institutions or other large organizations with the power to influence many people that, either intentionally or unintentionally, result in people of color and/or low-income people being exposed to greater environmental hazards.” This work includes several focus areas, including Toxic Free Neighborhoods and Climate Justice.

To ensure the communities they serve have a voice in State of California climate change plans, the EHC recently hosted a climate change workshop for the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee and the California Air Resources Board.  The meeting attracted over a hundred people who  talked about air pollution from the many industries located in their neighborhoods, the impact of climate change, and other topics, and provided ideas and recommendations for the draft update of the CARB Scoping Plan, which defines how California will reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020.

While welcoming the state’s intent to reduce greenhouse gases, Leticia Ayala, EHC Associate Director of the Healthy Kids Campaign noted that “there seems to be a tremendous disconnect between our state’s goals for addressing climate change and local projects that move us further from those goals, such as freeway expansions before investments in better public transit”, and emphasized that “Climate change is a global crisis, and our communities have great ideas and proposed solutions. Now, we need the resources to make things happen.”

To learn more, check out the EHC blog post, Thanks for urging the California Air Resources Boart to Protect #HealthHoods and the San Diego Free Press article linked below.

San Diegans Voice Concerns to State Officials About Air Quality, Environmental Justice, and Climate Change, San Diego Free Press