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RAISING ELIJAH by Sandra Steingraber


Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis

by Sandra Steingraber

Pub Date: April 22nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7382-1399-6
Publisher: Merloyd Lawrence/Da Capo

Biologist and environmental-health writer Steingraber (Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood, 2001, etc.) confronts the hormone-disrupting, brain-damaging toxins our children absorb from the playground to the kitchen floor, and everywhere in between.

A mother of two, the author is extra-sensitive to the many dangers lurking in her children’s everyday experiences. Though she’s occasionally overly sensitive (“I don’t even like having my kids in the kitchen while pasta is cooking or being drained”), Steingraber writes with clarity about many of the poisonous chemical agents that infest our daily lives—the arsenic that leaches from pressure-treated wood, the pesticides on food, PVCs in the kitchen tiling, asbestos and lead paint—and the unique risks they pose to children. The author capably sketches the background of the toxins, the ways in which we are exposed to them and how she has sought to avoid them in the home. The book gets its rhythm and appeal from the twining of science and personal examples—e.g., the time her husband ripped up the tiles on their kitchen floor, only to find asbestos tiles below that and then lead-based paint below that. When it comes to the politics of it all, Steingraber is bracingly elemental. Because the government has simply not done its job of ensuring domestic environmental tranquility, “[t]he way we protect our kids from terrible knowledge is not to hide the terrible knowledge…but to let them watch us rise up in the face of terrible knowledge and do something.”

An artful commingling of life with children, environmental mayhem and political-science primer. A great companion to Philip and Alice Shabecoff’s Poisoned Profits (2008).