“Another Side of Justice”: My Summer as a CEH Intern

I just graduated from high school and the only time I really thought about the environment was in science class. I knew chemicals can harm you but I didn’t realize that the toxics were located in the products I use every day. That all changed this summer.

As a Rose Foundation intern I worked at the Center for Environmental Health and it gave me a new outlook on the world and the environment I live in! I didn’t think about how diesel trucks affected our breathing! Passing by and parking their trucks on neighborhood streets, polluting our precious air and our lungs. Oakland has the highest asthma hospitalization rates in the Bay Area for children ages 5 -17. Harming our children at such an early age is just killing the future. Who would have thought that diesel smoke can be just as harmful as cigarette smoke!

My favorite thing i learned this summer left me a little upset. As a young woman, I tend to spend a majority of my money on personal care products such as perfume, body wash, and lotion. Working at CEH I learned that Bath and Body Works, a store I go to all the time, uses triclosan.  Triclosan is a toxic chemical that causes numerous health hazards—a chemical like that should not be used in soaps that people my age buy.

I could go on and on about how pollution affects more than your respiratory system and can cause brain damage or memory loss. I could write about the issue of lead in baby toys and how harmful lead-tainted products can be to children’s health. But the most important thing I learned this summer is to be aware!  Take the time to think about the products you buy and the materials used to make those products, and take action to make others more aware.  Ever since I’ve learned a few things about our environment, and environmental health, I have been interested in more and decided to spread the information on to my peers and people surrounding me. I’m glad I had this opportunity to see another side of justice.