People We Love: Wilma Subra

A former EPA scientist puts her knowledge to work helping people affected by toxic pollutants.
pwl wilma subra bw

Wilma Subra, an EPA scientist studying environmental toxins, thought the EPA’s research summaries were so misleading and difficult to interpret that they amounted to withholding information from affected communities. She couldn’t stand it.

So in 1981, she started an environmental consulting firm that does research and analysis for people concerned about toxins in their local environment. Subra has since worked with upwards of 600 communities across the world, handles 30 cases at a time, and does most of her work for free.

After Hurricane Katrina and then the BP oil spill hit the Gulf Coast, Subra became a spokesperson for devastated communities. Her clients include fishermen hired for cleanup who became sick from crude oil and dispersants.

A soft-spoken 68-year-old grandmother, Subra has a steely dedication to environmental justice. She has received a MacArthur Fellowship and, more recently, the Global Exchange Human Rights Award.

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