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Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582435677
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582435671
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This is one scary book. Using a variety of test methods, the authors determined individual “body burdens,” or the toxic chemical load we carry. The innocuous rubber duck, for example, offers a poison soup of phthalates that “permeate the environment and humans.” From other products and food, we also have a collection of chemicals shorthanded as PFCs, PFOAs, PSOSs, and PCBs. None of them are good, and they are everywhere, thanks to Teflon (which drew the largest administrative penalty against a company ever obtained by the EPA), Stainmaster, nonflammable pajamas, tuna (hello, mercury), and, would you believe, antibacterial products. The legacy of our chemically addicted society is not just all around us but also inside us, and it is killing us, as the Teflon case proved. (Workers in West Virginia believed that “having a high-paying job often meant getting sick,” and many were reluctant to sue and possibly scare DuPont away.) Poised between chirpy green-living manuals and dense academic papers, Smith and Bruce Lourie have crafted a true guide for the thinking consumer. If readers don’t change their ways after reading this one, then they never will. --Colleen Mondor

Review

Praise for Slow Death by Rubber Duck

“Beware the smiling creature in your bathtub: it’s yellow, it squeaks, your kids love it, and it gets into your bloodstream—literally.” —High Country News

“Enviro-porn.” —Forbes.com

“Undertaking a cheeky experiment in self-contamination, professional Canadian environmentalists Smith and Lourie expose themselves to hazardous everyday substances, then measure the consequences . . . Throughout, the duo weave scientific data and recent political history into an amusing but unnerving narrative, refusing to sugarcoat any of the data (though protection is possible, exposure is inevitable) while maintaining a welcome sense of humor.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Slow Death by Rubber Duck’s real achievement is in documenting how chemical giants stay a step ahead of regulators, and those revelations make the book a fascinating and frightening read.” —The Week

Slow Death by Rubber Duck . . . isn’t just alarmist environmental shock and awe. It’s a thoughtful look at how pollution has shifted over the years from something tangible and transparent (industrial pollutants as the cause of acid rain) to something abstract and nuanced (BPA’s links to breast cancer). The challenges this change presents, as many of the world’s top scientists explain in these pages, should be of serious concern to us all.” —O: The Oprah Magazine

Slow Death by Rubber Duck is hard-hitting in a way that turns your stomach and yet also instills hope for a future in which consumers make safer, more informed choices and push their governments to impose tougher regulations on the chemicals all around us.” —The Washington Post

“This is one scary book. Using a variety of test methods, the authors determined individual ‘body burdens,’ or the toxic chemical load we carry. The innocuous rubber duck, for example, offers a poison soup of phthalates that ‘permeate the environment and humans.’ From other products and food we also have a collection of chemicals shorthanded as PFCs, PFOAs, PSOSs, and PCBs. None of them are good, and they are everywhere, thanks to Teflon (which drew the largest administrative penalty against a company ever obtained by the EPA), Stainmaster, nonflammable pajamas, tuna (hello, mercury), and, would you believe, anti-bacterial products. The legacy of our chemically addicted society is not just all around us but also inside us and it is killing us, as the Teflon case proved. (Workers in West Virginia believed that ‘having a high-paying job often meant getting sick,’ and many were reluctant to sue and possibly scare DuPont away.) Poised between chirpy green-living manuals and dense academic papers, Smith and Lourie have crafted a true guide for the thinking consumer. If readers don’t change their ways after reading this one, then they never will.” —Colleen Mondor, Booklist

“Fantastically important—an indispensable guide to surviving in an industrial age.” —Tim Flannery, author of Now or Never and The Weather Makers

“One of the most disturbing facts I’ve heard in the last few years is the new scientific evidence showing that Arctic people who rely on traditional diets—fish and marine mammals—are experiencing a world without baby boys. Well, not quite—but twice as many girls are being born, because male fetuses are weaker (you women knew this!), and baby boys cannot survive the level of PCBs, mercury and other toxins that find their final home in the Arctic. Slow Death by Rubber Duck tells the other end of this story—how ordinary household products we consume here in the U.S. are the font of this toxic rain that falls on the Arctic—but that while the Arctic is the most distant victim of these poisons, we ourselves are the first.” —Carl Pope, executive director, Sierra Club

“This book is a powerful reminder that what we do to Mother Earth, we do to ourselves. Read it to see why we have to change the way we live and get off our destructive path.” —David Suzuki, environmental activist and host of The Nature of Things

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

It's amazing the amount of dangerous chemicals in products we use everyday.
Chad
While we have a long way to go, everyone reading this book will come away with something to improve their lives and the lives of those they care about.
fytob
Yet I found this informational and entertaining book to be important and engaging.
Spudman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Peter M. Sullivan on February 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Toxins are a common and widespread problem that is even more inconvenient and has even more personal impact than global warming. The topic leaves most people feeling a mix of overwhelm, anger and hopelessness. But as you may have guessed from the title, "Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things" takes a different approach.

What started out as a funny joke and dare between friends actually became an amazing project that will empower consumers. Two Canadian environmentalists exposed themselves to everyday products and watched the toxin levels in their body's skyrocket. Sadly, this experiment is something most of us do unknowingly every day. The authors show how our everyday exposures and product choices impact our toxin levels and health risks. Although I am still shocked by how common the toxins are, I was very encouraged to learn that many of them will leave the body in just a few days after reducing the exposure.

Despite the light title, this book is packed with intelligence insights, is backed by research and is fascinating to read. It will help you take actions that will measurably reduce your exposure to harmful toxins. Congratulations to the authors for turning this heavy topic around and pointing to a more positive and hopeful approach that is within our control.
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86 of 93 people found the following review helpful By scientific illustrator on January 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I always considered myself to be rather savvy when it comes to where I come into contact with carcinogens on a daily basis. I have known about phthalates and BPA and fire-retardants now for many years, but I had no idea the extent to which the chemical companies have infused their questionable chemicals into every crevice of our daily lives. It is shocking and appalling and completely reckless. The only way we can turn this tide around is to arm ourselves with knowledge and demand change. Read this book! If you're not angry after reading it, you weren't paying attention!
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By DC Book Angel on January 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The personal touch that Lourie and Smith employ in explaining just how prevalent chemicals are in our everyday lives, and more important, HOW to reduce our exposure to those chemicals by choosing products in an informed way make this book both readable and useful. Every parent and child care provider should read it to see how to reduce the exposure of our vulnerable young. It does leave you wondering why so many toxins are allowed to be used in our food, cleaners, clothes, and furniture.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By My2Cents TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Toxic chemicals are everywhere, but just how harmful are some of the products many of us use on a daily basis? Not sure you want to know?? You might want to skip this book and this review. The book is filled with interesting and easy to understand facts; it is addictive reading.

Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, environmental activists from Canada, deliberately exposed themselves to some of the chemicals many of us use. For one week, they inhaled, absorbed or ingested a variety of products, and closely monitored their exposure levels using blood and urine analysis; the results made me gasp! Some chemicals showed heavy exposure after just 2 days.

The authors point out that ther are roughly 82,000 chemicals in use in the United States, and each year some 700 new ones are added to the mix. Of these, only 650 are monitored, and even more shocking only (5) have been banned! Even asbestos, a known cancer causing agent, is not banned. Many cancers have been linked to chemical exposure. In 2009 there were 1.5 million new cancer cases expected, and because our bodies "absorb like sponges", this all seems to make perfect sense. It is also believed that many childhood epidemics are due to chemical exposure: asthma, ADHD, autism, and reproductive disorders. It is further believed that certain childhood exposures can lead to adult onset of neurological diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinson's Disease.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By leslie edwards, Fayetteville, GA on July 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book, Slow Death by Rubber Duck, is an eye opener about the dangers of the chemicals we encounter everyday. The authors spell out clearly how lobbyests for chemical companies actually promote fire retardants as beneficial to the safety of children when the reality is that the same chemicals have lasting negative effects on those who come in contact with them. It is all about profits and not about safety. They push for more regulation and more stringent flame retardant requirements from the government to increase the ways fire retardants are mandated. The number of people who are actually ever in a fire is miniscule compared to the dangers of the chemicals on babies,children and adults. Fire retardants are in children's clothes, furniture, carpets and more and are found in mother's breast milk. Putting fire retardant clothing on babies is like pouring chemicals on their little bodies. Some cotton clothes have fire retardants but there are cheical free clothes available.
The book also discusses non stick cookware and the dangers of Teflon. Safe cookware is stainless steel, copper and cast iron. Even if you don't use Teflon fry pans, the same chemical is used in a tremendous amount of food packaging, including the inside of microwave popcorn bags.
Harmful chemicals are found in toys, electronics, makeup, shampoo, food and more.
If you have noticed an increase in cancers among children and adults, the book makes a correlation between the increase and the use of chemicals that is hard to ignore. Some groups link breast cancer, prostrate cancer, autism and a host of other health issues to the use of harmful chemicals in every day products.
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