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A local Chilean feminist group has helped forced the closure of a smelting plant that was causing local air pollution.

The group, called Mujeres de Zona de Sacrificio Quintero, or Women of the Quintero Sacrifice Zone, works to promote our right to live in a Pollution-free environment, right to health (especially of children), and environmental heritage.

The coastal towns of Quintero and Puchuncaví in Chile are one of the five ‘sacrifice zones’ in Chile. In the 1960s, industrial areas containing chemical plants were set up. The zone has been called “the Chilean Chernobyl” by Greenpeace because of the horrible health effect the plants have had on locals.

The surrounding area is home to 50,000 people. Just last month, at least over a hundred locals, including children, suffered symptoms of sulfur dioxide poisoning and sought treatment. High levels of sulfur dioxide are released into the atmosphere from nearby factories, which can cause headaches, respiratory problems, dizziness, eye irritation, nausea, and other severe symptoms.

A local teacher, Gladys González told The Observers that she and her students are used to headaches.

“We are resigned, we know we’ll die of cancer. Here, the industries make money at the expense of our health,” González said.

The feminist group’s fight for environmental justice was finally listened to when the government agreed to take action.

The group was formed over 10 years ago and is made up of women who live in the area. According to Open Democracy, Codelco, a Chilean copper mining company, operates a smelting plant in the area and is responsible for around 62 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions in the area.

The women group posted pictures on Facebook of protestors outside of the plant. Then, on June 17th, the president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, announced the closure of the plant.

Katta Alonso, a member of the group, told Open Democracy that she was happy that the plant will finally close as it’s located just a few blocks from where she lives.

“We knew it had to be done, but we didn’t expect them to do it,” said Alonso.

Air Pollution is an invisible killer and has been linked to so many diseases, including fatty liver disease, depression, and other mental health issues, and a study even found that nearly 6 million babies born prematurely in 2019 were likely linked to air pollution. Eating meat has been linked to a rise in air pollution, and factory farms are one of the biggest to blame for our dirty air. According to the WHO, an estimated 4.2 million people every year are killed from outdoor air Pollution, and 99 percent of the global population breathes air that exceeds WHO guideline limits, with low and middle-income areas disproportionately affected.

Check out these eco-artists that are using their art to call attention to the massive problem of air Pollution and sign the petition to demand federal clean-up of disproportionately affected polluted areas in the United States.

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