Thursday, April 29, 2010

Slow Death by Rubber Duck

Healthy, organic, local, socially responsible, and humane. Oy. After all the food books I've been reading, these are all things I'm trying to incorporate into my diet. And let me tell you, it's not easy. I am far from successful. But now I find out that no matter what I'm eating, my body is still being exposed to all kinds of toxins from other sources, such as plastics, furniture, beauty products, frying pans, etc., etc., etc. I can't win! I knew I never should have read Rick Smith's and Bruce Lourie's Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things. It is truly frightening. The authors examine the seven chemicals that are most dangerous and most prevalent in our environment, including phthalates, PFCs (Teflon), PCBs (flame retardants), mercury, BPAs (polycarbonate), pesticides, and antibacterials. Despite their toxicity and proven link to cancers, reproductive problems and hormone disruptions, they are found in pretty much everything we come in contact with on a daily basis. The authors purposely expose themselves to these chemicals and run blood and urine tests on themselves to see if the levels of these chemicals in their bodies would increase. In most cases, they did. After a while, the facts and statistics started overwhelming and depressing me, so I skimmed much of it and got to the last chapter, where the authors make suggestions on how to limit your exposure. But the bottom line: we are all doomed. No matter how hard you try, you will never succeed completely. The chemicals are too prevalent in our society. But I am glad I read this book, and I am recommending it. At least now I'm more aware, and that is the key. If people just knew what they were putting into their bodies or coming in contact with, I believe more people will begin to demand change. I also know what to look for in ingredients, I have websites that I can use to check products (, and there are some simple things I can do like getting rid of that plastic shower curtain and using cast iron pans instead of nonstick (Yay! An excuse to buy that Le Creuset pan I've been wanting!). I felt a little smug for knowing a couple of their suggestions, like eating less big fish (mercury) and changing from a plastic reusable water bottle to stainless steel. So, despite the overwhelming and scary statistics, I think everyone needs to know these things, and the authors do a good job of explaining a complicated subject.

P.S. Here's a great little ditty you can use to remember what plastics are safe to use (check the number next to the recycling symbol): "4, 5, 1 and 2. All the rest are bad for you."

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