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Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power Hardcover – September 16, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"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 Earth Odyssey and The Eagle's Shadow
"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
Top customer reviews
Clearly we have fallen behind the environmental curve and, while only citing the GOP / Bush power structure in passing, the burden of responsibility clearly falls on the Republican Party and all those who support it.
It would be nice to say "politics aside" - but that is not an option. The issue is the politics of self-destruction in the name of short term profit and the right to poison as many people as possible.
In that context, there is a Mindsay blog site on the web (shreckenangst) where the actions of politicians are judged against their enforcement of a doctrine labeled "The Most Harm to the Most People" - "Exposed" exposes in very readable terms the policies of governments which support, or refute, the Most Harm doctrine. Sadly, it is the United States which seems to bend over backwards to supports it; and the European Union which refutes it. The author describes these contrasting policies in terms of America insisting that third parties establish absolute proof of harm, while the EU relies on science indicating the potential for harm.
Under EU policies, if it can cause cancer, birth defects, infertility or any other problem - it is to be banned. The result is, companies which do business in both America and the EU set up factories accordingly - healthy ones for the EU, and poisonous ones for America. China has adopted the EU policies for itself and is now dumping toxins in America - while American companies, because they cannot meet the EU or Chinese environmental standards, cannot trade products with those nations. Example: American Cars fail Chinese EPA standards and so our auto industry is blocked from the worlds largest single population of potential buyers.
Read this book.
1. It is clearly a MUST READ for anyone who is not suicidal, and/or would prefer to see their children and grandchildren healthy - or at least as healthy as those in Europe.
2. It is clearly a MUST READ for anyone who remembers the time when America was the world's economic engine and leader - and would like to know why we are rapidly becomming a third world nation.
I found the book sensible and compelling on three points:
1) Weak US environmental law are turning the US into a dumping ground for unhealthy products that Europe and Asia will not accept
2) The European Union is a bigger client of China's than the US
3) The European Union is not just making very strong and sensible regulation about public safety, it is carrying those requirements all the way to the Chinese factory floor, and in the process, making both China and Europe superior to the US on the manufacturing and sustainability fronts.
I was especially concerned to read about toys made of plastic whos vapor emissions harm children over time.
The author tells us that the US is suffering from "analysis paralysis" and that Europe is at least a decade ahead of us.
The "dirty dozon" (sic--I count eleven) of the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are:
· Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
Digital component waste is mentioned throughout the book.
The book concludes with a look at genetically modified crops, and a French court finding that farmers were acting in self-defense when they destroyed such grops at research farms.
REACH is the EU's Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals program and it is becoming a global standard (except in the US).
Good notes and index.
Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies
The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead
The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future - and What It Will Take to Win It Back
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It