Mindful Living: Human Health, Pollution, and Toxics
Mindful Living H uman Health, Pollution, and ToxicsA s people of faith, we often turn to the Bible for advice on how we should live and improve our lives. Turning to scripture, we often think of self-improvement and self-care in spiritual terms and seek ways to purify our souls, make our hearts more loving, and better conform our minds to Christ. For issues that concern our physical bodies, however, most of us are conditioned to look elsewhere for answers. And yet, despite this, the Bible does teach us how we must think about and care for our bodies. Scripture teaches us that we are all created in the image of God and that our bodies are to be temples of the Holy Spirit. We honor God when we take steps to foster an environment that promoteshealthy living for creation and for each other. When we disregard the importance of a world that is clean andsafe, however, our bodily temples suffer, and we fall short in honoring our Creator. The pervasiveness of pollution across the land, water, and air, and the presence of harmful chemicals in themanufacturing process of nearly every man-made item, make the health dangers of chemicals and pollution asobering problem. Household cleaning products contain potential poisons. The food on our tables can containharmful pesticides. Even our water, used for drinking, bathing, cleaning, and cooking, may be contaminatedwith dangerous chemicals. Pollution of the air and water, and the presence of harmful chemicals in everydayhousehold items contribute to an unprecedented incidence of illness. Environmental degradation has beenlinked to diseases that range from asthma and cancer to developmental disorders in children. In fact, childrenand the elderly are the most vulnerable to these widespread contaminants. This unnecessary burden of a pol-luted Earth is an insult to the perfection of God’s creation and a desecration to our bodily temples. Toxic pollution is also a justice issue. Toxic pollutants and chemicals disproportionately threaten the healthof low-income communities and communities of color. According to the report Toxic Wastes and Race atTwenty: 1987-2007, issued by the United Church of Christ, “people of color make up the majority of those liv-ing in host neighborhoods within 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of the nation’s hazardous waste facilities.”1 Yet, despite these alarming realities, there is hope for change. With mindful living, active citi-zenship, responsive governmental action, and business leadership, we can all live out God’svision for our lives with wholeness and abundance.Our Covenantal Relationship From the beginning oftime, people have lived in an interdependent relationshipwith God’s Earth. In Genesis 1, all of creation was declaredby God to be good. The light and dark, the Earth and sky,the land and sea, the plants and trees, all the wild animals,and the fullness of humankind were all formed in love andwith the intention to carry out the work of God. Humanitywas given the privileged, yet difficult, task of acting as stew-ards of God’s Earth and preserving the life-sustaining work ofcreation. Our role, as stewards of God’s creation, calls us towork for the abundant and healthy environment that we allneed and depend on for our existence.1 Bullard, R., Mohai, P., Saha, R., Wright, B. (2007) Toxic Waste and Raceat Twenty (1987-2007). Columbus, OH: The United Church of Christ.
O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures…When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. Psalm 104:24, 30 The Burden on Women and Children Women, children, and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of toxic chemicals. DuringWe Know Not What We Do Too often, humanity forgets its God- pregnancy, industrial chemicals,given responsibility to care for all of creation. Instead, we abuse our privileged pollutants, and pesticides canpositions as stewards and treat the world as a means to serve our own selfish damage a child for life. Becausepurposes. When we use up God’s abundance for the immediate benefit of our- power plants and industrial chemicalselves alone, we have forgotten our responsibility as stewards. The architect of complexes are often built nearthis world masterfully designed a system in which all elements are related for communities of color, children ofthe common good and for the sustainability of life itself. When we overstep the these communities disproportionatelybounds of our role within this system, we run the risk of turning creation into suffer from diseases such asa wasteland. asthma and cancer that are linked to environmental contaminants.Pollution Problems Pollution occurs when human activities contaminateGod’s Earth with harmful substances. This contamination, which can occur in A recent study from the Centers forthe water, air, and land, not only endangers human health but has devastating Disease Control and Prevention foundeffects on the rest of God’s creation. Air pollution is often caused by carbon that women had significantly highermonoxide, sulfur dioxide, chloroflourocarbons (CFCs), and nitrogen oxides levels of toxic chemicals in theirproduced by motor vehicles, power plants, and industrial processes. Water pol- bodies compared to men. Exposurelution, which often occurs as a result of surface runoff from farmland or urban to arsenic, lead, mercury, and airareas, can contaminate waterways and ground water with toxics, pesticides, or pollution can increase a woman’sexcess nutrients. Soil contamination occurs when chemicals such as heavy met- risk of heart disease, the numberals, herbicides, or pesticides are absorbed into the ground. Increased awareness one cause of death for women.of pollution problems has led to governmental policies such as vehicle emission Alarmingly, African American womencontrols, the Clean Air Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1963, and the Clean are more likely to die from heartWater Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1977. disease, stroke, or cancer than women of any other race. InToxic Legacies Synthetic chemicals are pervasive in our modern lives—in our addition, exposure to formaldehyde,homes, schools, and churches. These seemingly invisible, yet toxic chemicals, are toluene, perchloroethylene, andfound in everyday items from baby bottles to personal care products to the food we pesticides have been linked toeat. These synthetic chemicals and heavy metals in consumer products, building infertility in women.materials, cleaners, and plastics are contributing to unprecedented incidences ofillness and disease ranging from asthma to cancer.
Over the last one hundred years, materials stain and stick resistant,we have produced millions of tons of are likely human carcinogens. Also, Housecleaningchemicals for the manufacture of new various types of pesticides, which are the Natural Wayproducts. Some of these chemicals have chemicals sprayed onto our foods to Use these easy household recipesmade our lives faster and more conve- kill insects and weeds, have immedi- to help make your homenient. While many of these chemicals ate effects on the nervous system and toxic-free (adapted from Worldwere rigorously tested to ensure that may impair the brain development of Wildlife Fund)they could perform their intended children. In the rush to introduce newtasks, their long-term impact on our chemicals, we unfortunately learn Oven Cleanerbodies and on the rest of creation about their harmful effects long after Clean grease with rag andhas been largely ignored. More than the damage is already done. vinegar. Sprinkle salt on82,000 synthetic chemicals are cur- spill. Let it sit for a fewrently in use. Only ten percent have Environmental Triggers and minutes, then scrape thebeen minimally tested for their effects Disease Research by the National spill and wash the areaon human health. Nearly 1,000 new Institute of Environmental Health Sci- clean. For stubborn spots,chemicals are being introduced each ences has shown that although genet- use baking soda and steelyear. These largely untested, unregu- ics is an important predictor of health wool.lated chemicals end up in our food, challenges, triggers in the environmentwater, air, and consumer products, often propel a person towards disease. Window Cleaner ½ cup vinegarand have serious implications for our So, while someone may have a pre- 1 gallon warm waterhealth and wellness. disposition to a particular illness, the Fill spray bottle. disease may never develop if not firstEffects of Toxic Chemicals A prompted by exposure to a chemical or Stain Removerstudy by the British Medical Journal other environmental factor. Children, Soak fabrics in water mixedconcluded that seventy-five percent of the elderly, and people with weakened with borax, lemon juice,most cancers are caused by environ- immune systems are particularly hydrogen peroxide, or whitemental and lifestyle factors. In fact, vulnerable to environmental con- vinegar.most Americans have between 400 to taminants. Rates of asthma and800 chemicals stored in their bodies,typically in fat cells. Health effects oftoxic chemicals include cancer, asthma, Fenceline Communities and Environmental Racismbirth defects, and autism. According Industrial plants and waste facilities, both in urban or ruralto a 2002 report by the Environmental areas, are often located next to low-income neighborhoods andProtection Agency, in the year 2000, communities of color. Because of the proximity of these toxicover 7.1 billion pounds of 650 differ- plants, these communities, known as fenceline communities,ent industrial chemicals were released often experience higher rates of asthma, cancer, and otherin the air and water; 266 of these are health damage. Environmental racism is a term used to definelinked to birth defects. policies and actions that disadvantage individuals or groups For example, toxic flame retardants, based on race, color, or income. By learning the stories ofsuch as PBDEs (polybrominated people in our own regions, we can work with these vulnerablediphenyl ethers), have been linked to populations to improve living conditions for all of God’s people.behavioral problems, birth defects, and You can locate and learn about sites in your region ata decrease in thyroid hormone levels. www.scorecard.org.Similarly, perflouorinated compounds(PFCs), chemicals used to make
developmental problems are on the through the collective body. Our own motivated first and only by our loverise, as well as the incidence of cancers. bodies, as temples of God, need to be of God. Only when the spirit of God,Many of these chemicals are seriously purged of pollution and toxic matter which initially gave rise to the diversejeopardizing our overall quality of life. so that the work of God can continue aspects of creation, can live in us and and flourish in each of us. The way flow through us will the whole of cre-Stagnancy The intended design of we move, work, and play in the world ation be renewed. A pure body bothcreation is one in which interdepen- should foster creation’s interdepen- leads to and stems from a pure heart.dence of all living things is celebrated dence, where each member of creationand encouraged. The lessons of inter- in some way contributes to the health The Fruits We Bear Everydependence, both joyful and challeng- of the whole. In this way, creation is day we make choices about our dailying, are what makes life abundant. We continually animated by the spirit of living—from which transportationmay eliminate our opportunity for God and regularly resurrected. we use to what household cleaningabundant living through our reliance In 2 Corinthians we are reminded products we choose, to our selec-on synthetic chemicals. We cannot to purify everything that contami- tion of lawn care products. We tendmake God’s Earth a wasteland of things nates body and spirit. It is not enough to think of these as individual deci-created, used, and then discarded to lessen our contamination from pol- sions concerning only us, but we areand still expect people or the rest of lution and toxic chemicals. We must called to consider how we are affect-God’s creation to prosper. Exposure attempt to eliminate them altogether. ing all of creation. What impact willto air pollution, water contamination, We must seek to find ways to live that our actions today have on those whotoxic substances, heavy metals, endo- do not endanger ourselves or others. come after us? How will they influ-crine disrupters, and carcinogens turn Our waste should not accumulate in a ence those around us? What bearingGod’s cycle-of-life design into a trun- landfill so that it poisons the land and will they have on our own lives? Arecated lifeline. By instead seeking safer, people living nearby. Our daily living they helping to purify the body andand more sustainable alternatives, all should not use or release toxic pol- spirit of creation? If we are able to dis-of us as part of Gods creation can live lution or chemicals that cause envi- cipline ourselves to regularly ask thesea full, and abundant, life. ronmental degradation and human questions and respond to them with illness. Rather, our lifestyles should the intention that comes from lovingPurity as Holiness Ridding allow God’s creation and God’s people God first (Luke 10:27), then our workthe Earth of all pollution and toxic to flourish. as stewards will ensure that all of cre-chemicals that trigger illness is part The kind of purification that leads ation can experience the spirit of Godof the work to which we are called to resurrection requires that we know flowing with each breath.as stewards of creation and advocates about the pollution that our life-for justice. Any effort given toward styles create and the chemicals thatpurifying the body–the Earth’s, our are entering our bodies. Our bodiesown, and others–shows respect for the are meant to be a dwelling place fordivine artist whose masterpiece is our God (Ephesians 2:21), a templecontext for living. out of which grows a pure heart. It is also the pursuit of holiness. Matthew 5:8 says “blessed areGod’s creation, of which we are only the pure in heart, for they willone part, is sacred. We should treat see God.” Purity in this senseit with great care to ensure that the is freedom from conflictingbreath of life can flow rhythmically motives; it occurs when we are Purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. 2 Corinthians 7:1
PCBs and other chlorine-based chemicals may threaten the ability of polar bears to reproduce. Arsenic Success Story Before 2002, pressure-treated wood was treated with a pesticide that contained arsenic, exposing children who played on decks and playgrounds made with pressure-treated wood to elevated doses of arsenic.Living an Abundant Life Life are plentiful and are good for food After pressure from parentsmay not always be easy; but it will be and the leaves promote healing. Rid- and consumer groups, theabundant. Ezekiel 47:12 gives us a ding ourselves and our world of the wood industry responded bypicture of this abundant life. It is the toxic chemicals upon which we have conducting a voluntarypicture of a river flowing with water come to rely on will purify the sanctu- phaseout of wood for residentialthat springs forth from the sanctuary ary and allow for the love of God to use made with arsenic.and nourishes the trees growing on “water” the Earth.both banks. The fruits of these treesLand certified to grow organic produce makes up less than1 percent of all U.S. farmland.Farming FaithfullyRural communities are blessed with fresh and varied produce that are not always foundin urban or suburban supermarkets. However, rural farmers also face unique environmentalhealth concerns related to food production. Many farm workers and small farmers who workwith traditional farming practices are often exposed to pesticides that are harmful to humanhealth. Studies have found higher rates of prostate cancer, breast cancer, retinal degeneration,and Parkinson’s disease among farm workers exposed to pesticides. Often these same farm-ers are paid low wages, guaranteed work for only a season, and receive little or no healthbenefits. Notably, the majority of farm workers are people of color and overwhelminglyLatino. In June 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency released a list of known orsuspected endocrine disruptors, which help control our bodily functions and devel-opment. All the chemicals on the list are pesticides. To improve the health of small farmers and farm workers, farmerscan use more sustainable farming techniques that disrupt pests withoutchemicals. Consumers can also help by supporting local, organic farmsthat bring produce to urban farmers’ markets. As a faith communitywe can bring voice to the health concerns of vulnerable rural commu-nities and encourage large corporate farms to enforce safety standards,stop the application of the most harmful pesticides, and provide healthcare benefits to their farm workers.
Demystifying the Chemical Alphabet SoupIt can be challenging to spell and even pronounce many of the chemicals found in our everyday lives. Understanding theimpacts that these chemicals have on our bodies and communities, and then determining ways to reduce any harmfuleffects can be daunting. Below is a list of chemicals to particularly avoid if possible. There are safer alternatives to some ofour most toxic chemicals, but we can do more.Bisphenol-A mostly by consuming fatty food, espe- phased out of paint and gasoline, leadThis chemical is commonly found in cially meat and dairy products, and still poses a significant threat to indi-hard, clear plastic #7 bottles, table- the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC viduals, especially children and preg-ware, bike helmets, aluminum cans, or vinyl) products. Associated health nant women who come in contactand dental sealants. Bisphenol-A has effects include immune suppression with lead paint in old houses. Asso-been known to cause cancer, hor- and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. ciated health effects of lead exposuremonal changes, changes in menstrua- include fertility problems, cognitivetion patterns, accelerated or delayed Formaldehyde impairment, developmental delay,puberty, obesity and type II diabetes Formaldehyde is used as a disinfec- and chronic renal disease.in animal studies. Avoid Bisphenol-A tant and can be found in syntheticby using stainless steel drinking bottles resins, wood, dyes, and plastics prod- Mercuryor #5 plastic baby bottles. Also avoid ucts. Sources of formaldehyde include The main sources of mercury includecanned foods or purchase uncoated building materials, wood products, coal-fired power plants, waste incin-aluminum products. fuel-burning appliances, adhesives, erators, and industrial boilers with and paints. Associated health effects exposure coming primarily throughDioxins include cancer and respiratory illness the consumption of fish once mer-Dioxin is a group of chlorinated such as asthma. cury leaves the atmosphere and enterschemicals found in the pulp, paper, waterways. Associated health effectsand PVC plastic manufacturing Lead of mercury exposure include birthindustries. It also comes from the Lead is used in building construc- defects, heart disease, nervous systemincineration of chlorine-containing tion, paints, batteries, pipes, and disorders, and mental retardation.materials. Exposure to dioxins occurs other metals. Although lead has been Women of child-bearing years, in Acting as a canary-in-the-coalmine warning Adding it All Up to us, hundreds of bird deaths have been reported Scientists have recently begun to study the impacts of from toxic fumes produced from the use of not just one chemical in our non-stick pans and products. bodies, but the effects of multiple chemicals interacting within our bodies. These studies indicate that the timing and combinations of exposures—a chemical cocktail—as well as the dose level of a contaminant can increase the risk of being harmed.
Body burden refers to how chemicals build up in our bodies,finding their way into blood and breast milk, eventuallyimpacting our health.particular, should avoid consuming fish, such as swordfish and kingmackeral, that contains high levels of mercury.Perfluorochemicals (PFCs)PFCs are used for non-stick products and stain- and water-repellingsubstances under brand names such as Teflon, Goretex and Scotch-Guard. They are considered by scientists to be among the most haz-ardous contaminants ever produced. PFCs are found in the bloodof more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, and have beenlinked to cancer and birth defects. In 2006, the eight largestusers and producers of PFOA, a kind of PFC the Environ-mental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated a likelyhuman carcinogen, signed an agreement with the EPA tovirtually eliminate PFOA pollution by 2015. Passing it OnPhthalate Many chemicals such as leadPhthalates are synthetic chemical substances used to make plastics, like PVC and mercury are stored in the(vinyl), more flexible and enable personal care products and detergents to hold fatty tissues of animals. Thisscent. They are found in toothbrushes, automobile parts, toys, personal body bioaccumulation occurs whenproducts, and food packaging. The health effects of phthalate exposure include toxics are absorbed and cannot bebirth defects, hormonal changes, and infertility. Exposure to phthalates can be released from the animal’s body.reduced by avoiding microwaving food in plastic containers or wraps, and by These toxic chemicals are thenbuying unscented products. Parents should look for toys and teethers that are “passed on” when the animals“phthalate free.” are consumed, either by humans or other predators. Fish such asPolybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) Swordfish and King Mackerel, forPolybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) are bromine-based chemicals used as example, store mercury, whichflame retardants that can be found in household products such as computers, when consumed by vulnerabletelevisions, mobile phones, furniture, and textiles. While this chemical additive populations, such as women andoffers protection from fire, these chemicals persist in the environment and can be children, can harm their health.found in breast milk, passing from mother to infant. The health effects of PBDEsinclude thyroid cancer, developmental delays, and hearing loss. Many leadingcompanies are finding innovative ways to reduce the flammability of their prod-ucts without using PBDEs. Cotton and wool are both naturally fire resistant.
By Rev. Neddy Astudillo, Eco-Theologian and Presbyterian Pastor, Beloit, WisconsinSermon StartersMY BODY, GOD’S TEMPLE livelihoods? What is causing death and sickness among us?Based on Gen 1:27; 2:7; Rom 8:18-27; 1 Cor 6:19-20 What is causing pollution amongst us? How do we help the Earth heal? How can we heal?Cultures, like the Mayan culture, that place an emphasis Living as resurrected is possible through the presence ofon intergenerational celebration and connection to God’s the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is lived through spirituali-Earth have an inherited understanding of our interdepen- ties that guide us to choose life and free us from the gripdence with all that surrounds us. We co-exist in commu- of deadly choices. Jesus said: You will know them by theirnity. These cultures dismantle the false views of individual fruits (Lk 6:44). Christ reminds us He came so we may allfreedom or independence. Christ came to free us from sin have life and have it abundantly.and death, not from one another. We are the only creatureswho need to create ‘culture’ to survive. God co-exists incommunity as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is the HEALTH AND SALVATIONcreator, redeemer, and sustainer of all that is. God made us Based on Isa 65:17-25; 55:1-13; Lk 8:43-48;in God’s image and from the living soil. In our relationship Mt 10:7b-8, 1 Thess 5:23with God and the world around us, we find our meaning,health, and true freedom. In the Old Testament, salvation is often described as the space that God creates for the life of God’s people. The fer- tile land is given as a salvific act from God for the well beingLIVING AS RESURRECTED of God’s people. Salvation also happens when God deliversBased on Deut 30:19-20; Mt 10:7-8; Jn 10:10; God’s people from their enemies (Ex 14:13-14, 30). Other11:24-27; Rom 6:1-20; 8:12-17; Rev 21:1-8 examples of salvation are also found in acts of redemption, forgiveness, and reconciliation.Theologian Elsa Tamez in a study of Romans 6 and 8, In the New Testament, Jesus delivers people from spiri-shares that we ought to live as resurrected. Living as resur- tual and physical bondage and restores them to commu-rected implies living a daily life on God’s Earth that points nity. Healing is a salvific act, a step closer to the coming ofto an experience of full transformation, an intentional and God’s Kingdom. When the Kingdom of God is near, andconscious journey from a state of death and all that such a when the Word of God is among us, the poor heal, thestate implies, to a state of fullness of life. young do not die and the old live long. When the Kingdom We proclaim the new heaven and the new Earth, the res- of God is near, no one goes hungry, life flourishes, and theurrection of the body, not only as an eschatological promise wicked forsake their way. Salvation and healing go hand inbut sealed in Christ, living our lives as if God’s Kingdom is hand. Salvation implies health and security. They coexist asalready among us (Mt 6:10). elements of the same promise. The challenge for our faith is The Earth is included in this promise (Mk 16:15, Rev to see these two things together and to live them out.5:13; 11:18; 22:1-2). The question left is—How do webring about fullness of life within our own contexts and
Please tear out and fold this page for use as a bulletin insertSafer Alternatives Mindful Living H uman Health,The precautionary principle holds that God’s children and communitiesshould be protected and safe from harmful chemicals. Human health Pollution, and Toxicsis intricately linked to the health of God’s creation. The products webuy can impact the health of our bodies. “Green” chemists are workingon finding safer alternatives to toxic chemicals. These safer alternativesreduce health damage and pose less of a threat to the rest of God’s cre- ation. Safer alternatives not only protect consumers but also create s people of faith we often turn to the Bible to seek self healthier work places and a safer world for our children. improvement and spiritual self-care. We look for ways in scripture to purify our souls, make our hearts more loving, and to better conform our minds to Christ. Green Tip The Bible also offers us ways to care for our physi- Holy Housecleaning cal bodies, even though traditionally we seek Many traditional cleaning products release gases called these answers in other places. volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause eye, skin, Scripture teaches us that we are all created in the image of God and respiratory irritations. Non-toxic cleaners can be made with everyday household ingredients. Try this recipe to Aand that our bodies are to be temples of the Holy Spirit. Our 21st century lifestyles, however, often cause our bodies to reflect make your home or your house of worship shine! Find more modern lifestyles more than sacred living. There are over 82,000 recipes at www.nccecojustice.org/envhealthhome.htm synthetic chemicals used in everyday household items, emulsifi- ers, automotive, agricultural, food processing, and other indus- All purpose cleaner tries. We are exposed to these chemicals in our homes and work 3 tsp. liquid soap, or places, in the food that nourishes us, and in the air we breathe. ¼ cup vinegar, or Alarmingly, only ten percent of these chemicals have been tested ¼ cup lemon juice, or for their effects on human health. ¼ cup Borax Today, pollution of the air and water, and the presence of (per gallon of water) harmful chemicals in everyday household items, contributes to an unprecedented incidence of illness. Environmental degradation has been linked to diseases that range from asthma and cancerFor more information on Environmental Health and other programs to developmental disorders and obesity in children. Ridding theto protect all God’s creation, visit the National Council of Churches Earth of all pollution and toxic chemicals is part of the work weEco-Justice Programs website at: www.nccecojustice.org. Contact us are called to do as stewards of creation and advocates for justice.at email@example.com or call 202-544-2350. Any effort towards purifying the body—the Earth’s, our own, and others—is a sign of respect for the divine architect whose master- piece is our context for living.
CALL TO W ORSHIP P RAYER OF CONF ESSIONSpirit of Life Christ Lord, you called us to serve and protect, to till and to keep, but Come and feed us with your love and grace. we muddied the waters we drank, we hurt ourselves and the least ofSpirit of Consolation these. In our desire to be great, we forgot to serve. We confused domin- C ome and embrace us with your presence and your vision. ion with selfish destruction, and your love with our selfish freedom.Spirit of Hope May your Spirit heal the Earth, our bodies, and our souls. May we C ome and fill us with a new word, a word that may free us to serve. find our place within your creation. Forgive us, and lead us, we pray.Spirit of Openness Amen. C ome and convert us to one another, without fears, indifference or exclusions.Spirit of Acceptance ASSURANCE OF P ARD ON Come and hold us in the new Earth that you are creating. Like the soil that wraps the seed as soon as it falls, and like the sun thatSpirit of the Universe surely rises each and every morning, so is the love of God. God’s love Come and move us to the sound of your groaning. Amen stands ready to embrace, lead, and forgive. May we feel free to serve as children of God. In Christ, our sins have been forgiven. Thanks be to God!P RAYER OF THE P EO PLELeader: or those who suffer the effects of chemical exposure, that they F may find healing and hope. SEN D ING F ORTHPeople: Lord, hear our prayer. May the God of peace sanctify you and heal you and may your spiritLeader: or our food, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the prod- F and soul and body be kept sound and blameless for the building ucts we buy, the products we make, that they may be free from of God’s Kingdom. May the Word of God lead you to choose that which causes harm, so we may sustain and improve our Life. May the hope of abundant life that Christ proclaims lives, while keeping the Earth. be your light and your way now and forever. Amen.People: Lord, hear our prayer.Leader: or the healing power of the Earth, that may overturn any F harm we have made, and so it may teach us how to live in the land safely.People: Lord, hear our prayer.Leader: or our bodies, temples of Holy Spirit, that we may seek plea- F sures that sustain life as God meant it for all generations.People: Lord, hear our prayer.Leader: or those who create laws that protect us from harm, for scien- F tists, and for those who are raising awareness about the negative impacts of our actions on the Earth and our health.People: Lord, hear our prayer.Leader: or this and much more, may your Kingdom come, Lord. F Amen
Learn More Take Action. Perform a Lifestyle Audit.For suggested resources, news, and advocacy alerts stay Assess your exposure to toxic chemicals andtuned to www.nccecojustice.org/envhealthhome.htm make choices to reduce it. (on page 6)Adult Study and Discussion Questions Educate Others. Host a church get-togetherMy Body, God’s Temple to inform others about environmental health• Discuss a memory of community from your childhood. issues and encourage them to join in the effort• After reading Romans 8:18-27 discuss what was meant to eliminate toxic chemicals from our bodies and by creation’s groaning and then being set free from its environment. bondage.• After reading 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 discuss what it Speak Out. Write, call, or visit your elected means for our bodies to be temples of the Holy Spirit. officials to tell them to strengthen environmental laws to protect children and support betterLiving as Resurrected testing of chemicals in consumer products.• Discuss how to bring more fullness into your life.• Discuss what is causing death and sickness among us.• Discuss ways we can help creation heal. 6. Avoid items that have been treated for water, stain,Health and Salvation or dirt repellency, or fire resistance such as some• Discuss how healing and salvation can go hand in hand. furniture, carpets, and clothing. Instead, buy products• After reading Isaiah 65:17-25 discuss what you think is with natural fibers such as cotton or wool, which are meant by a glorious new creation. naturally fire resistant. 7. Research your local water utility’s Consumer Confidence Report for high levels of toxins. ConsiderFOURTEEN Personal Actions purchasing a water filtration system to reduce harmful1. Avoid pesticide exposure by consuming organic contaminants. fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Non-organic 8. Avoid microwaving food in plastic. produce lowest in pesticides include onions, avocados, 9. Choose non-toxic cleaning products or make your frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mangos, asparagus, own from ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, frozen sweet peas, kiwi fruit, bananas, cabbage, and baking soda. Avoid the use of chlorine bleach. broccoli, and papaya. 10. Avoid tracking in pesticides and toxic chemicals by2. Avoid eating fish such as tuna, swordfish, grouper, and taking off your shoes at the door. halibut that contain high levels of mercury. Instead, 11. Choose play areas not made with CCA (chromated eat seafood with the lowest mercury content such as copper arsenate) pressure-treated wood. Mid-Atlantic blue crab, croaker, summer flounder, 12. Avoid using pesticides in your home, on your lawn or haddock, farmed trout, and wild Pacific salmon. garden, yourself, or pets. Do not use sunscreen with3. Minimize packaged food including microwave the pesticide DEET or other insect repellant. In your popcorn and fast foods, which can contain PFCs. garden, use disease and pest resistant plants, improve4. Many personal care products contain toxic chemicals, your soil health, increase the health of your plants by which we then apply right onto our skin. Buy adding compost, and reduce stress on plants by using fragrance-free products and avoid products with mulch. hydroquinone, lead, mercury, alpha and deta hydroxyl 13. Buy toys and teethers that are phthalate free. acids, parabens, tirethanolamine, iodopropynly 14. Avoid #7 plastic baby and drink bottles, and butycarbamate, and triclosan. Visit www. aluminum cans. These products are coated with safecosmetics.org to learn more. Bisphenol-A. Instead, look for uncoated aluminum,5. Use cast iron instead of non-stick cookware. #5 plastic, or stainless steel containers. 11
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH Ideas for Youth GroupsConduct a Toxic Inventory at Church. Hunt Organize a Pesticide- and Trash-Free Potluckdown chemical usage in your church by making a list of Invite church and community members to a fellowship potluckchemicals used to clean the buildings, maintain the prop- meal at the church using only reusable napkins and durableerty, and serve foods at fellowship meals. Research the plates, utensils, and serving dishes. Send out invitations encour-effects these chemicals have on the environment and peo- aging participants to adhere to certain guidelines when prepar-ple. Present your findings, as well as safe alternative sugges- ing their food offering. Suggestions could include providingtions, to your congregation. For a useful audit guide, visit organic, non-processed foods grown with no chemicals.www.nccecojustice.org/envhealthhome.htm. For more information on how you can help protectHost a toxic free car wash to raise awareness in God’s creation and God’s people, visit the Nationalyour community about toxic chemicals and to promote safe Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program website atalternatives to common cleaners. www.nccecojustice.org. Contact: info@nccecojustice. org / 202-544-2350Create a Toxic-Free Stewardship Banner to printed on recycled paper using soy inks with 100% wind powerdisplay in the church. Use non-toxic art supplies to designa banner that expresses our role as stewards of God’s Earth. Washington, DC 20002Pollution, and Toxics Suite 108 uman Health,H Mindful Living 110 Maryland Ave., NE National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs