Fighting pollution: Toledo residents want personhood status for Lake Erie

In early August 2014, Crystal Jankowski was late in her pregnancy and knew she was about due. In was hot and humid where she lived in Toledo, Ohio and she remembers just wanting to relax in a cool shower.

But the graphic designer could not take one. The water source for Toledo is Lake Erie, and an algae bloom caused in part by phosphorus runoff from farms had sickened the lake with an overload of “microcystin” bacteria. The city banned drinking the water for a week and “children, the elderly and pregnant women” were instructed not to even shower.

“My gynecologist told me: ‘Don’t even touch the water, it could make you and your baby very sick,’ and that really got to me,” she said.

“So many of us in the community realized we had to do something about this.”

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