Robert Washington

Robert Washington
River Rouge, Michigan

I grew up around here. I love it here. With Rouge being so small, you're one person away from knowing everybody.

We never were told that we could have potential breathing problems. We weren't really too concerned with it as kids. Everybody had a family member who worked at one of the plants around here, and it was like, if you want them to stop polluting, that means they'll have to shut down the place, and that's jobs!

Then people started noticing this stuff that would land on your car and get on your house. I remember in the '70s, my dad's car would always have a light orange dust on it. We'd go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning, and there'd be like a fine, orange-colored dust on it. He'd just rinse it off. Didn't complain to anybody. It was just like a part of your day.

That's how everybody treated it. They figured they'd just deal with it. But then we started finding out that this stuff can cause long-term effects. It can mess up your breathing.

I'm glad people are finally starting to pay attention to it. (Interviewed August 12, 2012)

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Photo by Ami Vitale/Panos Pictures