Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis

Publication Type:



Da Capo Press (2011)









In the absence of federal policies that are protective of child development and the ecology of the planet on which our children's lives depend, we serve as our own regulatory agencies and departments of the interior...

Thoughtful but overwhelmed parents correctly perceive a disconnect between the enormity of the problem and the ability of individual acts of vigilance and self-sacrifice to fix it.

Environmental awareness without corresponding political changes leads to paralyzing despair...We feel helpless in our knowledge, and we're not sure we want any more knowledge.

You could call this well-informed futility syndrome. And soon enough, we are retreating into silent resignation rather than standing up for abolition now.

--Sandra Steingraber. Raising Elijah. 2011.

"We shouldn't wreck this place down, right, Mom?"

--Elijah, age six,the author's son.

“Eco-biologist, cancer survivor, activist, mother of two, and author of books about environmental hazards and their effects (including Living Downstream and Having Faith), Steingraber applies her knowledge and philosophy to the challenge of raising children in our toxic, climate-threatened world. She connects many child health issues, including asthma, behavioral problems, intellectual impairments, and pre-term birth to hormone-disrupting, brain-damaging, and otherwise dangerous environmental factors. Chapters tackle weighty problems–diminished fertility; how chemicals infiltrate mothers’ milk; air quality and the ozone hole; neurotoxicology; hydraulic fracturing–and how they affect children and families. Two major themes emerge: first, current environmental policies must change to safeguard and support the health of children and, second, we must end our dependence on toxic fossil fuels. Less a guidebook for conscientious parents than an alarming and sobering human rights polemic, the book’s narrative is nevertheless a persuasive, personal call to action.” —Publisher’s Weekly

See: Living Downstream: An Ecologist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment

See: Mira's Story: My Amazing Daughter's Fight Against Cancer

See: Poisoned profits : the toxic assault on our children

See: The Case for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Toxic Hazards

See: Fracking: Implications for Human and Environmental Health

See: Food and Water Watch

See: What is the National Children's Study?