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Natural Resources Defense Council


Sarah Janssen's Blog



I grew up in the rolling hills of rural northern Illinois – in a small town where all the neighborhood kids were subject to discipline by any parent on the block, where everyone knew your name and still does, and where the hot summer nights were spent sleeping in the backyard gazing at a star-filled sky, listening to crickets and crocuses calling, and catching fireflies.  I was the first scientist and the first to attend a 4 year college in our traditional working class family. After my undergraduate training, I decided to attend graduate school and I just kept enrolling in classes – in fact, I’ve spent 30 semesters of my life as a student!  I have a MD and PhD in Reproductive Biology from the University of Illinois. In 2001 I moved to San Francisco to do my residency training in Occupational and Environmental Medicine and along the way picked up a Masters in Public Health. Now as a Science Fellow at NRDC, I use all that knowledge to work on eliminating chemicals from the market that have been associated with causing infertility and reproductive harm. Like any parent, I want to protect my child from harm and I find a lot of inspiration for my work from my daughter who just turned one.  When I’m not at work, you’ll find us at Ocean Beach, at one of the many great parks around the Bay area, or spending a quiet moment at home snuggled up with a book.

Roots in:
Freeport, Illinois
Favorite place:
in a sea kayak in the Broken Group Islands, B.C., hiking at Pt Reyes National SeaShore, or skiing anywhere in the Rockies.
Why "environmentalism" matters:
Most people think of the environment as someplace outdoors – a park, a lake, the ocean, etc. But the environment where the majority of people spend their time is indoors – whether they are at work, at home, or commuting. We spend over 80% of our time indoors but never think about this place as being our environment. We don’t think of it as a place full of chemicals or as something “dangerous” or contaminated. But the indoor environment is where most of us are exposed to chemicals that have been linked to cancer, infertility, birth defects, or neurological damage. We have to make sure that in our quest to be “environmentalists” we don’t overlook tending to our own nests.

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