Paul Miller: Where did you get the passion that compelled you to start the Center for Environmental Health?

Michael Green: When I was an eighteen-year-old college freshman in Boston, I walked along the Charles River and had an epiphany. I felt the connection between the city’s vitality and the fact that the river was too polluted to swim in or drink from. I knew there had to be a better way. That week, I applied to transfer to UC Berkeley to study environmental policy, which set me on the path I’m on today. Along the way, I worked for Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama’s Government-in-Exile, and the US EPA and Department of Energy.

PM: How is the Center for Environmental Health different from other environmental groups?

MG: We focus on families and their health. Industries now use more than 84,000 chemicals, most of which are totally untested for their effects on people. It’s a reckless experiment, and families are the guinea pigs. We work in support of everyone’s right to lead a healthy life without the threat of cancer and other diseases brought on by these chemicals. We love trees and whales, but we’re trying to save the people.

PM: What I love about the Center for Environmental Health is its relentless approach to making more transparent and intelligible the issues facing modern society.

MG: Parents intuitively get that their children and families need clean air, safe water, healthy food, and toxic-free products. We take that awareness and connect it to what’s going on all around us. It’s heady stuff, but parents become powerful advocates when they see how global supply chains can affect their kids. So when CEH started looking at hormone-altering chemicals in plastics, I had my son’s favorite sippy cup tested. Sure enough, his cup tested positive for these chemicals. These issues affect all of us, and ultimately, everyone can relate.

PM: Why is environmental justice important to CEH?

MG: Children in low-income communities of color are exposed to a more toxic stew of health-threatening chemicals than children in affluent communities. This is one of the grave moral failures of our day, and we are honored to support those communities that are doing something about it.

PM: What’s next for Center for Environmental Health?

MG: We’ll keep protecting children, pregnant women, and their families from this reckless science experiment. For example, nap mats and furniture contain cancer-causing flame-retardant chemicals. These chemicals are now in the bodies of every American, but as used in these products the chemicals don’t actually protect us from fires. We’re using the law and the marketplace to create incentives for manufacturers to remove these unnecessary toxic chemicals.

We’re also taking on fracking companies, who refuse to disclose the harmful chemicals they use, even though communities across the country know that fracking is polluting their air and water.

We’re working for new chemical policies that require companies to show their products are safe before they bring them to market — so businesses will profit by making the safest, most sustainable products. That’s a long-term win for business and for families.

Website: www.ceh.org

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