Protecting Birmingham Families: Toxic City Encore Presentation
Each summer, my family plants a few vegetables in the back yard -mostly for the experience – and we find great delight when we can pull a cucumber, tomato or pepper from the yard. This year, I look at those vegetables differently and I wonder.
After viewing the documentary, Toxic City, and later watching portions of a CBS documentary (“Deadly Deception”), I learned that families in a North Birmingham neighborhood have been told not to eat vegetables grown in their yards. Both documentaries report an unusually high rate of cancer and asthma with little enforcement by the Jefferson County Health Department or the EPA. The documentaries are troubling because here’s the thing — even if the cancer rates and dirty soil are expensive to prove and connect blame, there are families in Birmingham that literally have to wash the soot off of their homes and window sills. For me, the black soot streaming off of homes is enough to sound the alarm.
The problem is complicated – a web of corporate influence and a resulting lack of resources for local government to enforce higher standards. The enforcement of permits rests with the Jefferson County Health Department and they need to hear your voice. If you see, smell or suspect pollution – report it.
For now, I’m interested and hope you will be also… researching, looking at our city differently and wondering if it’s ok to eat the vegetables from my yard.