TUCSON, Ariz.— A new report from the Center for Biological Diversity explores the harms caused by environmental threats like pollution and climate chaos to fertility, pregnant people, fetuses, infants and children.
The Influence of Environmental Toxicity, Racial Inequity and Capitalism on Reproductive Health describes the damages caused to reproductive and environmental health by fossil fuel extraction, plastic production, pollution from industrial agriculture, and climate catastrophe under market capitalism. It brings reproductive harms into the conversation over how environmental toxins and climate change lead to poor public health outcomes, especially in low-wealth communities and communities of color.
“All of us are affected by the environmental destruction being caused by capitalism’s push for endless growth,” said Kelley Dennings, a campaigner at the Center. “Reproductive health is harmed by poor environmental quality in a way that’s often invisible. By exposing that link, we hope to shine a light on how growth for growth’s sake directly hurts pregnant people, families and children.”
The report is being used to educate nurses, students and other health professionals through an online learning module developed by Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health.
“Understanding the ways environmental exposures impact the human body and how they’re experienced unequally in our society is essential in advocating for reproductive justice,” said Jace Anderson, education research assistant with Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health. “Nurses and other providers should be informed about the health impacts of environmental issues and have the confidence to advocate for all people to have equal access to healthy, safe, and sustainable environments. This report laid important groundwork that informed the development of our module to teach nurses and other healthcare professionals about environmental justice.”
The report recommends social, economic and environmental policy that prioritizes health and healthcare over profit; corporate transparency and accountability for harm; testing, regulating and banning harmful chemicals; increasing access to safer and healthier food; rapidly transitioning to community-based and equitable renewable energy systems; and moving away from single-use products to reusable ones.