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Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power Paperback – February 24, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Americans' confidence in their government-sanctioned environmental and consumer protections receives another blow in investigative reporter Schapiro's exposé, which explores such discomforting information as the 2005 U.S. Centers for Disease Control tests that found 148 toxic chemicals "in the bodies of 'Americans of all ages.'" The U.S.'s unique tendency to take no action against businesses and their products until a disaster occurs keeps them tied to 1970s standards-"exposed to substances from which increasing numbers of people around the world are being protected"-while "the principle of preventing harm before it happens, even in the face of imperfect scientific certainty," guides an increasing number of countries; by "creating legal and financial incentives," governments in Europe and Japan have kept citizens relatively safe from what contributes to the deaths "of at least 5 million people a year," according to the World Health Organization. Schapiro (co-author, with David Weir, of Circle of Poison: Pesticides and People in a Hungry World) discovers toxins in personal care products, toys, electronics and foods which are, in some cases, manufactured solely for U.S. consumption, and traces them to the people and events responsible. Though a look at growing support for change in the U.S. provides some hope, a guide to action would have been an appropriate addition to Schapiro's prescient muckraking.
"A compelling wake-up call from deep inside the trenches. Europe is overtaking us in environmental health and safety regulations, while Americans are being sold out by their own government. This story desperately needs to be told, and Mark Schapiro is just the one to tell it."--David Wirth, Professor of Law and Director of International Programs, Boston College Law School
"[Schapiro's] startling message is that by lagging behind on environmental innovation, American industries are jeopardizing their financial future."--San Francisco Chronicle
"Listen up, American business, and save yourselves while you still can. Time and again in his career, journalist Mark Schapiro has been years ahead of the pack in unveiling stories that reveal the emerging global future. This time, Schapiro shows that Europe, by taking the environmental high road, is cleaning America's economic clock (not to mention exposing its people to much less pollution). The markets of the future are green. America will lose them if it doesn't get smart, soon."--Mark Hertsgaard, author of HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth, Earth Odyssey, and The Eagle's Shadow
"The book is a wake-up call... just don't read it late at night--it might keep you up."--Treehugger.com
"In this smart and timely new book, Mark Schapiro, editorial director of the Center for Investigative Reporting, examines the widening gap between American and EU chemical and environmental regulation, cogently arguing that although the United States used to be a leader in environmental protection, the power has shifted across the Atlantic."--ForeWord Magazine
"A gripping new book..."--The Economist
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Top Customer Reviews
The book addresses the thousands of chemicals all around us -- those in our appliances, our cosmetics and toiletries, even our food, and shows how very little testing is done on these chemicals before we are subjected to them. It also covers the political and economic aspects of the topic, including how there is contamination of "normal" crops due to cross pollination with Genetically Modified crops, and how the US crops could be losing their global appeal.
Forget about going to see a thriller at the Cinema 13 tonight -- just read this book to get yourself good and frightened!
Sadly, we cannot depend of the FDA, USDA, and other agencies to safeguard our health. Better to know than not so we can act accordingly. Better get the book.
My attention was brought to this book by an article in The Economist ('Brussels rules OK', Sep 20th 2007). The article generally concerned the European regulatory approach and how it was influencing not just developments in its own markets, but also abroad, as other countries used the EU standards as benchmarks for their own regulation. Even the US industry seemed to have sat up and noticed at last.
Concerning "Exposed", The Economist wrote: 'A gripping new book by an American, Mark Schapiro, captures the change. When he began his research, he found firms resisting the notion that the American market would follow EU standards for items like cosmetics, insisting that their American products were already safe. But as the book neared completion, firm after firm gave in and began applying EU standards worldwide, as third countries copied European rules on things like suspected carcinogens in lipstick. Even China is leaning to the European approach, one Procter & Gamble executive tells Mr Schapiro, adding wistfully: "And that's a pretty big country."
The book records similar American reactions to the spread of EU directives insisting that cars must be recycled, or banning toxins such as lead and mercury from electrical gadgets. Obey EU rules or watch your markets "evaporating", a computer industry lobbyist tells Mr Schapiro. "We've been hit by a tsunami," says a big wheel from General Motors.Read more ›
And they're entirely unnecessary. There are other nontoxic additives to make plastic pliable.
Oh, and one more thing: while perfectly legal in the U.S., phthalates are illegal in the European Union. In fact, as author Schapiro points out, a whole cesspool of toxic additives that are perfectly acceptable in the U.S. have been outlawed in the EU for a long time now. Chinese factories that try to sell phthalate-riddled plastic toys in Europe get their commodities rejected at the borders. Guess where they eventually wind up? Under your kid's Christmas tree. As Schapiro says (p. 189), the U.S. is becoming "a dumping ground or goods not wanted elsewhere in the world."
That the FDA and other governmental agencies are doing a crappy job protecting us from harmful and unnecessary toxins in everyday commodities probably doesn't come as much of a shock to anyone. But Schapiro's speculation about why the EU does such a better job watchdogging its citizens is worth heeding. Health care in the EU is nationalized. The government, using in part taxpayer monies, picks up the tab for taking care of sick and dying people.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great info in this book. More people need to read this so we can actually get some protection from all of the hazardous chemicals we are exposed to everyday.Published 12 months ago by Sara Adams
This book brings to light a serious loophole in the importation of toxic consumer goods. It will change the way you think about toxins in our society.Published 14 months ago by Shawn Macomber
In the introduction the book claims that lead is not recyclable. If he had made a more reasonable statement (such as lead in plastics cannot be recycled) I would be willing to... Read morePublished 14 months ago by guyny
The public needs to read this book. We have been kept in the dark for years concerning the toxic chemicals in our personal care products. Our health is at stake. Read morePublished on February 18, 2014 by D. Bonarrigo
very insightful information about what we need to watch out for to reduce our toxic burden. highly recommend reading it.Published on December 5, 2013 by christopher e thompson
Everyone should read this book, especially moms. If you know where the toxins are, you can at least try to minimize the exposure. Read morePublished on September 5, 2013 by Anna
I actually purchased this book looking for additional information about the chemicalization of our food supply. It was covered, but was a small portion of the book. Read morePublished on March 26, 2010 by HLMHugs
What an eye-opening book! Hard to believe the US gov't is lagging so far behind Europe in safeguarding its people. Read morePublished on March 21, 2010 by KS