Protecting Kids from Leady Products in Stores: My Summer as a CEH Intern

This past summer, the Center for Environmental Health hosted two high school interns from the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, a grant-making public charity that supports grassroots initiatives to inspire community action to protect the environment, consumers, and public health.

One of our summer interns, 18 year old Salvador Mateo from Mandela High School in Oakland, took a moment to share his experience working at the CEH office and his passion for the environment:

This summer, I was an intern at the Rose Foundation, and they placed me at the Center for Environmental Health.


The most important thing I learned at CEH was that there are dangerous things for sale in stores.  CEH asked my [intern] partner Ashley and me to visit stores like Hot Topic & Express.  We bought jewelry there, then we brought it back to the office, and the CEH people tested it.


We learned that some of the  jewelry we bought contained high levels of lead and cadmium, which are chemicals that make people sick.


I was truly amazed when they told us.  I thought we weren’t going to find anything in any of the jewelry we had bought.  I was wrong!  Up to right now, I am happy that we helped people stay away from those products for good.


In my time here I have learned things that I never thought I would learn until I was in my 30s.


It might sound boring, but it’s really not. It was interesting to learn more about what’s in the things we buy.  It also felt good to help kids, parents, and everyone avoid products with dangerous chemicals in them.


I am astonished at what has become of the Earth.  I hope to help it and help my people understand why we have to take care of our beloved planet.


We only have one planet.  If we don’t take better care of it, we’re all in trouble.