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

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

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by Rick Smith, Bruce Lourie
     
 

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Pollution is no longer just about belching smokestacks and ugly sewer pipes—now, it’s personal. The most dangerous pollution, it turns out, comes from commonplace items in our homes and workplaces. To prove this point, for one week authors Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie ingested and inhaled a host of things that surround all of us. Using their own bodies as

Overview

Pollution is no longer just about belching smokestacks and ugly sewer pipes—now, it’s personal. The most dangerous pollution, it turns out, comes from commonplace items in our homes and workplaces. To prove this point, for one week authors Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie ingested and inhaled a host of things that surround all of us. Using their own bodies as the reference point to tell the story of pollution in our modern world, they expose the miscreant corporate giants who manufacture the toxins, the weak-kneed government officials who let it happen, and the effects on people and families across the globe. This book—the testimony of their experience—exposes the extent to which we are poisoned every day of our lives, from the simple household dust that is polluting our blood to the toxins in our urine that are created by run-of-the-mill shampoos and toothpaste. Ultimately hopeful, the book empowers readers with some simple ideas for protecting themselves and their families, and changing things for the better.

Editorial Reviews

Lisa Bonos
This story of everyday pollution features not only the authors' self-experiments and struggles to create cleaner homes for their families but also their parsing of scientific studies of these chemicals and links to such problems as birth defects, childhood autism, attention-deficit disorder, hormonal imbalances and rising cancer rates. But it's not all doom and gloom…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
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Undertaking a cheeky experiment in self-contamination, professional Canadian environmentalists Smith and Lourie expose themselves to hazardous everyday substances, then measure the consequences. Inspired by data from the Environmental Working Group that shows Americans carry significant amounts of toxic industrial chemicals in our bodies (and published research tying those toxins to obesity, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer's, heart disease, and diabetes), Smith and Lowrie attempt to increase their personal "body load" of seven particularly worrisome toxins-phthalates, Teflon, ubiquitous anti-bacterial triclosan, brominated fire retardants, Bisphenol A, mercury, and hormone-based pesticide 2.4-D-through everyday North American activity: eating, drinking, sleeping, cleaning, watching TV, etc. Smith and Lowrie describe in detail the reasons behind and parameters of their self-experiment, including the hows and whys of blood and urine testing, and the specific products (Coke, Stainmaster carpet cleaner, Rubbermaid microwavable containers) purchased to increase their exposures. They also discuss their attempts to flush and avoid toxins before the experiment (Smith tries eating only food that hasn't come into contact with plastics, which proves impossible). 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582436760
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
12/10/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,087,814
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

As executive director of Environmental Defence Canada, Rick Smith is one of Canada’s leading environmentalists. Bruce Lourie is an environmental professional with expertise in toxic pollution and mercury. He is president of the Ivey Foundation. The authors live in Toronto.

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Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
jlund2009 More than 1 year ago
Slow Death by Rubber Duck explores how oblivious people are to what chemicals they are putting into their bodies each day. This book is an interesting piece written in first person about two scientists experiment to try and show how easy it is to contract high levels of chemicals in today's world. Even though it is a fascinating piece, it is does not contain facts and or extensive studies to back up the authors' claims. Even without these facts the authors do provide some ways to cut down on the amount of chemicals in your own body and some actions that can be taken to try and ride the country of these harmful substances. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting insight into chemicals that everything from children's products to the food we eat could contain. But, if you are looking for an academic view of chemicals within the human body or a cause and effect of pollution than I suggest that you look elsewhere.
Swimming_upstream More than 1 year ago
A user friendly book that is a very informative account of the dangerous chemicals that permeate our food, clothes, furniture, electronics, bedding, toys, cosmetics, soap & detergent, cars, planes, and many, many other products . . . What the chemicals do to our bodies, growing fetuses, the earth and other living creatures . . . And, how the powerful and organized chemical companies get away with using these dangerous chemicals. I only wish it were longer and gave information on more of the chemicals in the products we use.
Nathan479 More than 1 year ago
This is a scary subject. Everybody should read this book.
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