From Publishers Weekly
This angry book aims to expose the conspiracy of corrupt politicians, negligent regulators and greedy industry leaders covering up the epidemic of poisoned food, water and air that, the author claims, is filling our hospitals, killing our children and spreading cancer, birth defects, autism and leukemia. A veteran investigative journalist, Schwartz-Nobel (A Mother's Story
) keeps the human element front and center by illustrating each pollutant with at least one heartbreaking anecdote. Although many of the pollutants the author denounces are proven poisons, others are only suspicious and several may be innocent. Moreover, it's often not clear from the evidence cited in the book whether a specific toxin was responsible, though the victim and the author have no doubt. Unfortunately, Schwartz-Nobel's apocalyptic tone and lack of skepticism weaken her case. She quotes scientists, but more often quotes other journalists, popular magazines, newspapers, victims groups, plaintiff lawyers and advocacy organizations like Washington Toxics Coalition and SafeMinds. No one refusing the join the bandwagon escapes her scorn, including pediatricians who express doubt that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism. Environmental pollution needs a champion, but this overheated polemic preaches to the choir. (Aug.)
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Every microorganism and chemical that humans and animals consume or that is used to create consumable goods eventually gets into the so-called freshwater supply that we drink from and that irrigates the fields whose praises we sing and whose products nourish but, as Schwartz-Nobel points out, sometimes kills our children. At Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, several children of the marines stationed there died from acute lymphocytic leukemia, known to be caused by either radiation exposure or drinking contaminated water. Schwartz-Nobel learned that for years the military had dumped highly toxic chemicals into trenches within feet of the base's drinking-water wells. Elsewhere, crops including apples, potatoes, and spinach, raised on farms downstream from factories, test positive for carcinogenic chemicals in toxic amounts. The same cosmetics industry that advocates for breast cancer research fails to research the carcinogenic effects of its own products. Schwartz-Nobel contends that the reason for all this neglect is moneymaking, and that our water supply's last, best hope depends on grassroots rebellion against government regulators in bed with big business. Chavez, Donna