Understanding the Issues

You don’t have to live in or even near a city for your children to be at risk for environment-induced respiratory illness. In fact, some rural kids are at an even higher risk than urban children. That’s because CAFOs – Confined Animal Feeding Operations – produce toxic emissions that can cause or contribute to respiratory problems. Adolescents who live near CAFOs are 24 percent more likely to have asthma than those who don’t.

If the environment isn’t the cause of a child’s asthma illness, it will undoubtedly aggravate it, acting as a trigger for attacks. All Hoosiers help pay the millions of dollars for the medical care it requires. And, of course, the children who can barely breathe because of our dirty air pay a much higher price.

Here’s an overview of some of the environmental health problems facing our state.

Outdoor Wood Boilers
Outdoor Wood Boilers smolder various types of biomass – often in dense areas – to generate heat for space and water heating.   Unfortunately, they can be a major source of localized, toxic air pollution, including particulate matter, benzene, and carbon monoxide.   At last, the Indiana Air Pollution Control Board is going to start regulating these.  Learn about this emerging public health issue, and take action to regulate wood boilers.

Childhood respiratory illnesses
Fine particle pollution, CAFO air emissions and other man-made environmental factors contribute to the environmental health risks facing Hoosier kids.

Mercury pollution
Coal-fired power plants continue to pollute Indiana waters with mercury, a potent neurotoxin that ends up in the food chain. The children of mothers who eat mercury-tainted fish during pregnancy may suffer intelligence deficiencies and other problems.

Sewage-infested streams
More than 100 Hoosier municipalities have sewer systems that combine storm water and sewage. When these systems overflow into neighborhood streams, children may play in them, leading to various exposure illnesses.

Pesticide Exposure
While pesticides serve an important purpose, exposure or ingestion to certain types can lead to serious health issues. Unfortunately, the EPA allows registration for pesticides that have been shown to cause health problems.

The state of Indiana must enforce tighter restrictions on chemicals and toxins that are directly related to illnesses. CAFOs should be required to meet stricter emissions standards, or else only be allowed to operate within a safe distance form neighboring communities. Indiana should make a concerted effort to move away from coal-fired power plants responsible for mercury emissions and fine particle pollution that leads to asthma. Pesticides must be more carefully regulated.

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