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This Cancer Survivor’s Story Shows What Gutting the EPA Would Mean for Public Health

Greenpeace

Donald Trump wants to slash the EPA’s budget and defund public health programs — which could cost people like Heather Von St. James their lives. This is her story.

Heather Von St. James has a friendly, Midwestern quality to her voice. Speaking to her over the phone, she comes off relaxed and assured, passionate yet polished.

But when you ask her about Donald Trump, something in her voice starts to change. There’s an exasperation, a sense of controlled but forceful frustration just under the surface of her jovial tone.

“It just makes me so angry,” was the first thing she said when I asked her what she thought of Trump’s decision to place Scott Pruitt at the head of the EPA.
That’s because Heather knows firsthand the devastation that could happen if Trump and Pruitt’s attempts to gut the EPA are successful.

At 36 years old, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. She’s one of about 7 to 9 percent of mesothelioma patients who has lived more than five years after diagnosis, and one of even fewer who have actually defeated the disease. Since recovering 11 years ago, Heather has poured her time into fighting for regulations that limit Americans’ exposure to asbestos and championing protections for environmental health.

And she was seeing important progress in regulating pollutants and carcinogens like asbestos through the EPA — until Trump entered office. …

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