Voces Verdes: Latino Leaders Take Stance on Environmental Pollution
January 23, 2013
Voces Verdes, an independent, non-partisan organization of Latino leaders advocating for the environment, has long taken a stance against the negative health impact that pollution has on Hispanic communities. Earlier this month, Voces Verdes and partners took their concerns about harmful pollutants to the White House, asking for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama Administration to tighten down standards related to carbon pollution and existing power plants. “Voces Verdes is a coalition of Latino leaders, organizations, health professionals, business owners and community members who support policy that builds economic prosperity, protects the environment and improves the well-being of our community,” Adrianna Quintero, Founder and Director of the National Resources Defense Council’s (NDRC) Latino Outreach program, told VOXXI. “Pollutants surround us wherever we are: in the air we breathe, the water we drink, swim or fish in, even in our homes. “At certain levels, many of these pollutants become highly harmful to human health, especially for those living in areas with high concentrations of pollution,” she added. “Where air pollution is concerned, Latinos are especially vulnerable because they live in regions with the worst air contamination. The same is true for pollutants like pesticides due to the number of Hispanics who work in agriculture.” Quintero explained nearly one out of every two Latinos live in the country’s top 25 most ozone-polluted cities. Hispanics tend to live in these regions because they are unaware of the dangers and have occupations which keep them in polluted zones. In addition to job and housing factors, many Hispanics lack health insurance, which Quintero explains means health threats are not addressed early enough and/or become an economic burden on families that are already working very hard. “Where air pollution is concerned, we are all exposed to carbon, lead, nitrogen oxides, ozone, soot, and hundreds of other air pollutants emitted from our cars, factories, power plants, and heavy machinery daily,” stated Quintero. “However, in the U.S., the greatest concentration for the Hispanic population tends to be in areas that do not meet air quality standards.” It was the negative impact of those pollutants which encouraged Voces Verdes and partners to solicit the White House regarding pollution and climate change. The organization believes the President can set an example for the world by taking a stance and setting standards for existing power plants. “Voces Verdes wants the White House to know that Hispanics support taking action on climate change. We have seen the impacts in this country as well as in so many Latin American countries and believe that we can and must act to stop it,” Quintero told VOXXI. Quintero adds pollutants can lead to serious health issues, which range from rashes and severe asthma to cancer, but new health risks linked to pollution are being discovered every day. In addition to the dangers Hispanics face from such toxins, the public as a whole will eventually begin to suffer the consequences of climate change such as dangerous storms, droughts and heat waves if the issue is not addressed. This article originally appeared on Voxxi.