A Watershed Moment: Starla McDermott of Mom’s Clean Air Force talks pollution

On this week’s episode we hear from Starla McDermott, Field Organizer at Mom’s Clean Air Force, as she discusses the dangers of pollution in regards to children and the importance of spreading education.

Mom’s Clean Air Force is a nonprofit organization that began roughly a year and a half ago, and is composed of parents interested in protecting their children’s health in regards to pollution. Mercury, soot, cadmium and nickel are some of the main topics being educated upon.

“About 40 years ago the Clean Air Act got signed into law and it’s cleaned up a bit since then, but they were just cleaning up things you could see and they didn’t realize then how dangerous mercury was and that’s something you cannot see. It’s more just educating them, letting them know the dangers that it does have, especially on children or if you’re pregnant it can actually have an effect on brain development,” said McDermott.

In the West Michigan area, McDermott is focusing on Holland, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. In Holland and Kalamazoo, she has been teaching parents of the number one poison amongst children, mercury, and its source, coal plants. In the Grand Rapids area, McDermott educates about the dangers of coal, but is working to get parents aware of alternative sources of energy.

Not only does Mom’s Clean Air Force spread the education of important issues, they help show parents how to efficiently take action.

When a senator from Oklahoma was fighting the new mercury standards presented by the Environmental Protection Agency in February, McDermott took action by getting moms involved in writing letters and calling Senator Stabenow and Senator Levin, asking them not to support the opposing senator. Mom’s Clean Air Force helped to win the vote, ensuring the very strict mercury standards for coal plants.

Despite the name, Mom’s Clean Air Force is not exclusive for mothers. Anyone who would like to be educated on the topics of pollution and the dangers they can bring to our youth can be involved.

To listen to this week’s episode, click here.

“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

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