California Family Says Toxic Chemicals Made Them Sick

'I might not have a lot of time left' — This woman says every member of her family has illnesses due to chemical exposure. » Subscribe to NowThis Earth: » Sign up for our newsletter KnowThis to get the biggest stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox: This woman and her family lives approximately a mile and a half from the now-shuttered Exide Technologies battery recycling plant. The battery recycling plant closed permanently in 2015, but not before it spewed toxic chemical pollution like lead and arsenic into the surrounding environment for decades. #Recycling #Pollution #Earth #Environment #Science #NowThis This video "California Family Says Toxic Chemicals Made Them Sick", first appeared on

Video Transcript

TERRY GONZALEZ-CANO: My fear is that if this doesn't get cleaned enough, I'm not going to live long enough to continue to be a thorn in their side. I might not have a lot of time left.


They told us initially, oh, we don't need to worry about it. But look at the levels now. We're-- you know, most people, we're living on a-- on a toxic waste site.

The Exide plant, unbeknownst to us for decades, was polluting, emitting toxic chemicals. Not just lead and arsenic-- there was a whole laundry list, at least-- that I know of-- at least about 10 or 11 different chemicals for decades at ridiculously high amounts.

The whole area surrounding the Exide plant was heavily contaminated, and we didn't know. So we spent decades coming into contact with toxic chemicals in our dirt, in the air that we breathed. They never charged 'em, so they never-- they were able to file for bankruptcy and walk away, and now they don't have to pay anything anymore.

Had this happened anywhere else, in a more affluent neighborhood, it would have been cleaned without question immediately. But now, because it's in a minority area, we feel that they're just not going to clean, because they can use an excuse. "Oh, well, we don't have the money," and that should be acceptable to us. Like, we should just understand they don't have the money. So, you know, we're going to be forced to live in the area and on properties that are contaminated.

This has affected multiple generations just within my family. My parents passed away. All of us that, you know, that lived in this house, all of my sisters and brothers, have some sort of issue-- health issues-- some more serious than others. And now our children are having issues also.

My daughter is infertile. She can't-- she can't conceive. She's been on high blood pressure medication since she was a teenager. Everyone is asthmatic. My son has learning disabilities and learning difficulties. There isn't any one person in my family that has not been affected.

The emotional scars that you have watching your family members slowly die, to know that you might not make it in time, you might not live long enough to see your son graduate from high school, or to walk your daughter down the aisle, see your first grandchild born if your children can actually have children. I want to live. I want-- I want to-- I want everybody to be able to have a fighting chance. And without health impact studies done, that's just not going to happen.