Environmental Reporter Marla Cone Honored as the August Mom on a Mission!
August 14, 2022
Marla Cone, one of the nation’s most experienced environmental reporters, is Healthy Child Healthy World’s August finalist for our 2022 Mom on a Mission® award. Read her first-person story below on how she became an advocate for children’s health.
By Marla Cone, Environmental Journalist
I was sitting in a pickup truck in California’s Imperial Valley with the windows rolled up. A crop-duster was flying low over a row of vegetables, unleashing a trail of insecticide. I was researching a story for the Los Angeles Times about Native American tribes trying to outlaw aerial spraying. I needed to be there to see what these families were facing every day, so I told myself that if I happened to be exposed to a minute dose of pesticide, it would do no harm. But at that moment, sitting alone in the truck, I was having second thoughts.
After all, I was five months pregnant. I knew that the fetus I was carrying was vulnerable to harm from pesticides and other toxic chemicals. I noticed a fly buzzing against the windshield inside the truck. That fly became my “canary in the coalmine” — a symbol of survival amidst the invisible clouds of chemicals that surround us.
For more than 30 years as an environmental journalist, I have been on a mission to investigate and communicate the insidious effects of pollutants in our environment. My book, Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic, revealed that far away in the frozen North, we have turned the Arctic into a laboratory where women’s breast milk contains the highest chemical concentrations on Earth. And, like the fly in the pickup truck, we are all watching to see if they can manage to survive.
Much of my work at newspapers and as Editor in Chief of Environmental Health News has focused on people who don’t have a voice of their own. In EHN’s award-winning series Pollution, Poverty, People of Color I led a team reporting on families throughout the nation who do not have clean air or water. The families’ stories resonate with all of us, no matter what color or class. We are a foundation-funded news organization that reports news stories and provides our readers a daily newsletter with environmental news from other worldwide media. I have been honored to win several national journalism awards and my book was a finalist for the National Academies’ Communication Award, the most prestigious science journalism award. I am also the only journalist to be named a Pew Fellow for Marine Conservation. And I taught a master’s course at UC Berkeley, where my goal was to mentor young journalists to follow in my path.
Know an amazing mom who is making a difference? Nominate her to be one of our Mom on a Mission® finalists! Learn more about Healthy Child Healthy World’s 2022 Mom on a Mission campaign by visitingHealthychild.org/mission. A special thank you to our sponsors Ology.