Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis [NOOK Book]


Nothing could be more important than the health of our children, and no one is better suited to examine the threats against it than Sandra Steingraber. Once called "a poet with a knife," she blends precise science with lyrical memoir. In Living Downstream she spoke as a biologist and cancer survivor; in Having Faith she spoke as an ecologist and expectant mother, viewing her own body as a habitat. Now she speaks as the scientist mother of two young children, enjoying and celebrating their lives while searching ...
See more details below
Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price
(Save 41%)$17.99 List Price


Nothing could be more important than the health of our children, and no one is better suited to examine the threats against it than Sandra Steingraber. Once called "a poet with a knife," she blends precise science with lyrical memoir. In Living Downstream she spoke as a biologist and cancer survivor; in Having Faith she spoke as an ecologist and expectant mother, viewing her own body as a habitat. Now she speaks as the scientist mother of two young children, enjoying and celebrating their lives while searching for ways to protect them--and all children--from the toxic, climate-threatened world they inhabit

Each chapter of this engaging and unique book focuses on one inevitable ingredient of childhood--everything from pizza to laundry to homework to the "Big Talk"--and explores the underlying social, political, and ecological forces behind it. Through these everyday moments, Steingraber demonstrates how closely the private, intimate world of parenting connects to the public world of policy-making and how the ongoing environmental crisis is, fundamentally, a crisis of family life.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (May)
From the Publisher
Santa Monica Public Library, “Green Prize for Sustainable Literature,” September 2012

Booklist, 3/15/11
“Steingraber writes passionately about the things that matter most to her, her family and the environment…smoothly shifting from events in her life to a broader view…Steingraber wants to change the world even as she remains firmly planted in the neighborhood, seeking a way to make life better than most of us have come to expect.” 

BuffaloNews, 3/1/11
“Writing as both a scientist and mother of two children…Steingraber cites links between rising chronic childhood diseases and toxic chemical exposures. She takes a broad view, looking at increases in the prevalence of asthma, learning disabilities and autism, as she tries to understand her own household and life as a mom.”

Power of One Woman Blog, 3/29/11
“Through her newest book…Sandra has once again provided us, through well-documented case studies, the opportunity to examine our lifestyles choices and our surrounding environments…Sandra and her stories are gifts: golden information for busy parents who do not have the time for months of research.”
Publishers Weekly, 4/4/11
“A persuasive, personal call to action.”
Internet Review of Books, 3/25/11
“Terrifying and empowering…[Steingraber] skillfully weaves common domestic duties and scenes into and around the complex science, economic, and societal factors that have contributed to our current environmental crisis (and if you have any doubt that it is a crisis, you really need to read this book)…Knowledge is power. Raising Elijah is an excellent starting point for parents who want to know so they can protect their children from the dangers around them.”

New York
Journal of Books, 4/15/11
“One part memoir and one part educational treatise, and thoroughly informative and entertaining…Steingraber has taken a work that could have been a dry and didactic expository and turned it into a fluid, intimate narrative—sometimes funny, always entertaining and definitely illuminating. It’s a book that everyone—parents and otherwise—should avail themselves of for the good of those they care about.”

Ms., Spring 2011
“Steingraber’s narrative is personal and political, funny and smart. She shows us that feminism and motherhood are not at odds; combined, they make for heroes…Raising Elijah is a call to arms, a cry for the moral solidarity that we must forge to prevent environmental degradation and its assault on children’s health.”

St. Petersburg
Times, 4/17/11
“A biologist's memoir of protecting her family from a wide range of environmental hazards—and learning to make the best and cheapest organic pizza.”

SEHN Networker
, April 2011
“Read this for the kids in your life…This is a very funny book on hair-raisingly serious topics.”
InfoDad.com, 4/28/11
“Steingraber’s narrative structure for this book is attractive: an ecologist, she looks at the ‘ecology’ of her own family as she discusses both home-centered and public-policy issues.”

ValleyNews, 4/20/11“[A] fine book.”

Organic Valley blog, 5/11/11
“[Steingraber] has a rare knack for making dry research data come to life.”
Library Journal, 6/3/11
“[A] compelling and graceful call to arms…Steingraber combines the best of humorous science writers like Mary Roach with the soaring beauty of writers like Terry Tempest Williams. Fans of Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed should flock to Elijah.”
Fit Pregnancy, June/July 2011
“[Steingraber’s] tales keep readers engaged while illustrating the relationship between our nation’s chemical regulation (or lack thereof} and our kids’ current and future health.”

Reference and Research Book News
, June 2011
“A conversational memoir about the environmental threats our children face.”
Alternatives Journal, June 2011
“[Steingraber is] arguably the best environment and human-health writer of our age…Like [Rachel] Carson, Steingraber is sounding alarms about chemical pollutants in the best way she knows: through her formidable talents as a writer, storyteller and explainer of things scientific.”
EuphoriaBaby.com, 7/6/11
“An interesting and worthwhile read…A book that shares serious, often disturbing information can at the same time be so personal and empowering…If you want to be an informed parent this book is something you won’t want to miss.”
The Ecologist (UK), 7/7/11
“Combining hard science with a sympathetic approach to the realities of family life; Raising Elijah is one of the most important books you’ll ever read…Meticulously researched…A genuine, all-encompassing environmental study…Raising Elijah is that rare beast that combines hard data and approachable intimacy. At heart, it is an inspirational personal journey, a tale of activism at family level. It is perhaps the most essential book a parent can read this year.”
Spirituality & Practice (website)
“With great bravado and a firm grasp of ecology and biology, Steingraber runs down all the challenges she and her two children, Elijah and Faith, face in the toxic environment of upstate New York over a six-year period.”
BookPage, August 2011
“Read this book…Steingraber’s lyrical descriptions of everyday family life and its connections to ‘urgent public health issues’ are astonishing.”
MaineOrganic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Fall 2011
“Steingraber speaks here as a warrior, a parent determined to protect her children—and all children—from the polluted and climate-challenged world they have inherited.”
KeepTapWaterSafe.org, 9/13/11“It might be the most important parenting book you’ll ever read….Detailed and sobering…The facts are compelling unto themselves, yet her fluid prose is animated with personal anecdotes—all the better to elucidate the connection between corporate poisoning of the biosphere and our burgeoning public health crises. Raising Elijah also raises hope.”

Metapsychology Online Reviews, 9/13/11
“A fascinating and moving story about a parent's struggle to protect her child's health and wellbeing while still planning for his future in a world full of environmental dangers…Steingraber writes in a witty, poetic fashion, easily drawing connections between the environmental crisis and children's health…The book is one of the most fascinating and well-written pieces concerning the environmental crisis that I have read.”

Metropolis, 9/20/11
“As a writer, Sandra Steingraber has the eloquence and urgency of Rachel Carson. As a biologist, she has a fiercely acute perspective on how human health is affected by the many outputs of so many clever human inventions…In 10 elegantly framed chapters, Steingraber gives both a personal account of a family attempting to live a healthy life in upstate New York and a scientist’s look at the issues that make that so very challenging. The combination is powerful.”

The Weekly Harvest, 7/29/11
“Through a combination of scientific evidence and anecdotes plucked from her family life, she demonstrates again and again how, as individuals, our efforts to safeguard our homes so that our exposure is limited are not enough.”

Valley Advocate, 10/6/11
Raising Elijah does many things, and does them well. It’s a book about science that makes the topic accessible without leaving the reader feeling as if she’s being spoken down to. That’s thanks, in no small part, to Steingraber’s gift as a writer.”

Herizons, Fall 2011
“Steingraber combines compelling statistical evidence with beautiful writing to create an inspiring read…If you despair at the state of the planet and wonder how you can understand complex environmental problems, including climate change, while taking actions against them, this book is for you.”

Story Circle Book Reviews, 12/13/11“Part lyrical parenting memoir, part hard-hitting, meticulously researched advocacy, Raising Elijah is not a light read. But if you care about the health of our children and the planet that nourishes all of us, it's darn near essential…This is a powerful and empowering book: take it slowly and let Steingraber's facts and passion for a healthy world seep in and become part of your understanding; let them guide your daily choices in life…Steingraber uses memoir to introduce facts, and does it so effectively that the reader is sucked right in…A compelling and surprisingly hopeful work—one that will stick with you long after you've turned the final page.”

The Christian Century, 12/27/11
“A frightening read. I was tempted to put the book down several times but kept returning because of the author’s passion not only for the health of children but for the intricacies of nature, the human body and family life.”
Environmental Working Group’s Enviroblog, 11/8
“Give it to a fellow parent when you're done.”
CYE Journal (Children, Youth and Environments Center), Winter 2011 “Steingraber takes us directly through the trepidation—and the wonder—that many parents experience today…Steingraber gives detailed information while at the same time providing hope…She guides parents toward meaningful actions at home (buying local and organic when possible, avoiding certain kinds of products, gardening in the context of systems change, moving toward behaviors that require no more than human energy), but helps us see when these efforts are simply not enough and policy reform and activism is essential.”

Quarterly Review of Biology, March 2012
“Steingraber unleashes the accumulating evidence that the current environmental crisis affects children disproportionately…Historical perspectives and modern scientific findings are skillfully interwoven with autobiographical accounts that are at times verbose, at time humorous, but always engaging. Complicated science is made easy through the use of metaphors…[A] bold book…[that] demands reflection and action.”

Terrain.org, Fall/Winter 2012
“A book that is at once fascinating and frightening, lyrical and logical, funny and powerful.”

LVNtoRN.net“Top 50 Must Read Books for Nurses in 2012

Rethinking Schools
, Fall 2012

“A personal, poignant, and angry book that chronicles Steingraber’s efforts to defend her—and everyone’s—children against the manufactured toxins that insinuate themselves into our lives. This is not so much a handbook to protect one’s own child as it is a call to collective action to protect all our children.”

Named to Saratoga Living’s “Good Reads for 2013: A Holiday Gift Guide for Book Lovers” list

Wildlife Activist
, Autumn 2012
“A thought provoking and interesting book about the environmental challenges of our day…Meticulously researched…Everyone who cares about the future of children should read this book.”

E: The Environmental Magazine, February 2013“[Steingraber] is the Rachel Carson of our time…She is a biologist who crusades against chemicals [and] an author who writes eloquently about their consequences.”

Kirkus Reviews

Biologist and environmental-health writer Steingraber (Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood, 2001, etc.) confronts the hormone-disrupting, brain-damaging toxins our children absorb from the playground to the kitchen floor, and everywhere in between.

A mother of two, the author is extra-sensitive to the many dangers lurking in her children's everyday experiences. Though she's occasionally overly sensitive ("I don't even like having my kids in the kitchen while pasta is cooking or being drained"), Steingraber writes with clarity about many of the poisonous chemical agents that infest our daily lives—the arsenic that leaches from pressure-treated wood, the pesticides on food, PVCs in the kitchen tiling, asbestos and lead paint—and the unique risks they pose to children. The author capably sketches the background of the toxins, the ways in which we are exposed to them and how she has sought to avoid them in the home. The book gets its rhythm and appeal from the twining of science and personal examples—e.g., the time her husband ripped up the tiles on their kitchen floor, only to find asbestos tiles below that and then lead-based paint below that. When it comes to the politics of it all, Steingraber is bracingly elemental. Because the government has simply not done its job of ensuring domestic environmental tranquility, "[t]he way we protect our kids from terrible knowledge is not to hide the terrible knowledge...but to let them watch us rise up in the face of terrible knowledge and do something."

An artful commingling of life with children, environmental mayhem and political-science primer. A great companion to Philip and Alice Shabecoff's Poisoned Profits (2008).

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306819780
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 3/29/2011
  • Series: A Merloyd Lawrence Book
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 844,665
  • File size: 459 KB

Meet the Author

Sandra Steingraber, PhD, biologist, activist, and author, is Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College in New York.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Author's Note xviii

1 Milk (and Terror) 1

2 The Nursery School Playground (and Well-informed Futility) 27

3 The Grocery List (and the Ozone Hole) 57

4 Pizza (and Ecosystem Services) 83

5 The Kitchen Floor (and National Security) 111

6 Asthma (and Intergenerational Equity) 137

7 The Big Talk (and Systems Theory) 167

8 Homework (and Frontiers in Neurotoxicology) 197

9 Eggs (and Sperm) 229

10 Bicycles on Main Street (and High-Volume Slickwater Hydraulic Fracturing) 263

Further Resources 287

Source Notes 291

Acknowledgments 329

Index 333

About the Author 350

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 5, 2013

    fantastic read!

    fantastic read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)