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Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things Hardcover – January 5, 2010
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*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
"This book is a powerful reminder that what we do to Mother Earth, we do directly to ourselves. Read it to see why we have to change the way we live and get off our destructive path." -- David Suzuki
"Indispensable and unputdownable." -- Ann-Marie MacDonald
"What could be more alarming than the toxic chemicals absorbed by our bodies every day? Our willful ignorance on the matter. Slow Death by Rubber Duck is a call to action ... especially for us mothers, who are necessary for real social change." -- Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau
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The human body is a magnificent machine, one which we unwittingly mistreat with the tens of thousands of chemicals commonly in use at present. The body is forgiving to a certain degree. For example, a group of chemicals called phthalates is flushed from the system fairly quickly when exposure is reduced or eliminated. But what happens when exposure to a great multitude of chemicals is chronic and long term? What happens when our environment is saturated with them? Well, we know a lot, but new information is revealing an even more disturbing picture.
Pollution isn't just billowing from smokestacks anymore. It is in your home, in your house dust and your kids' toys, lining your canned goods and your popcorn bag, sprayed on your lawn, sofa and carpet, in your baby's plastic bottle. We are exposed to and bathing in this "toxic soup" everyday - we inhale it, we sit on it, we sleep with it, we cook with it, eat it and drink it. Everyday products expose us to chemicals that not only cause cancer, but are also suspected and in some cases proven to disrupt hormones, lead to insulin resistance, cause high cholesterol, neurological and reproductive disorders, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders and even obesity. In some cases, especially with reproductive abnormalities, damage is seen across multiple generations.
Authors Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie have brought us an enlightening report that can help us rid ourselves of at least some of the toxins in our everyday environment. For example, we no longer apply weed-and-feed to our lawn, cook with Teflon, or use disposable plastic water bottles. We have switched from a vinyl shower curtain to cloth and avoid air fresheners. We pop our own popcorn, try to buy clothing made of natural fiber, and use scentless laundry detergent. The authors give many suggestions for making simple changes that can help rid your home of unnecessary chemicals.
Still, scariest of all, the authors expose in detail the inescapable saturation of the environment with persistant chemicals such as mercury, PCBs, and DDT. This book will open your eyes to what is in your environment, both at home and in the world. As scientists are becoming even more aware of the dangers of environmental toxins, new regulation has been successfully demanded, but with the strong resistance of big industry and slow government response, we still have a long way to go. This book will give you a place to start.
I dreaded reading this book as I was afraid it would all be "doom and gloom" and leave me with the feeling of wanting to bang my head against the wall. I was happy to find that the authors accomplished their goal of writing an uplifting book. They deal with 6 toxic chemicals and give you practical ways to decrease the exposure you and your family have to them. They arm you with information (practical advice, valuable websites, etc.) to be proactive. The writing is both informative and interesting and most importantly, USEFUL. It has motivated me to start checking labels and writing to companies to find out if the products I use contain these harmful ingredients.
I am telling everyone I know about the information to make others more aware of it. Maybe if we all start asking companies and corporations and politicians questions about these chemicals, then the issue of the toxins we are exposing ourselves and future generations to will become a more pressing issue and more progress can be made in the US banning these chemicals or forcing companies to disclose what is in their products so that we can make wiser choices as consumers.