Before taking this class, I never really thought about my connection to the land that was around me. Looking back I realize how important it was to my childhood, most of which was spent outside and on the water. Growing up, my summers consisted of sailing and going out on Manhasset Bay with all my friends, or spending time with my family in Greece. I never thought how much I would miss being surrounded by the water, even in thewinter, when I came to Dickinson. I built a strong bond and a high level of respect for the bay, ocean, sea, etc. just because of all the amazing memories that I have from those places. I was always aware that our environment was in danger, but it was never really a concern that went through my head.
It wasn’t until I read Living Downstream, by Sandra Steingraber, that I realized how the blessing of living on Manhasset Bay could also potentially threaten my health in the future. Throughout my High School career, I was a member of the Manhasset Crew Team. We practiced twice every day at Bar Beach, in Port Washington. Every day, our team would row past a power plant directly on the coast of the beach. Every time we would row past the plant I would always crack a joke about how healthy that must be for all of us and continue the workout. After reading about the cancer cluster study done in Long Island and how the exposure to chemical plants has increased the likelihood of breast cancer in many women living in the surrounding area, I have become very concerned what that could mean for me.
This semester, not only learning how we are exposed to harsh toxins on a daily basis from our class, I did a project about Diesel Idling in Pennsylvania. We discovered that the diesel fine particulate emitted by the trucks and buses constantly traveling through our town bring forth many short-term and long term-effects to our health and surrounding environment. Because Carlisle is an area of heavy truck traffic, our air quality is greatly impacted by this. Thanks to Act 124, a law constructed to reduce excess pollution given off from diesel trucks while they idle, there are ways that we can reduce the amount of pollutants put into our air on a daily basis just by enforcing the law that stops diesel trucks from idling their engines.
The sad reality is that from taking this class, as well as many other things I’ve learned this semester, it is apparent to me that no matter where I go my surrounding environment can be horrible for my health and the health of my peers. I love where I grew up, I love where I am now, but if we continue to live the way we do our environment as well as our lives are in danger.