Monday, September 13, 2010

review: slow death by rubber duck

Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie. Alfred A Knoff, 2009.

Environmental non-fiction books by Canadians do not usually rate as a page-turner. But Slow Death by Rubber Duck is different. It's the story of how these two Canadian evironmentalists deliberately attempt to poison themselves in a room full of everyday toxic products.

Slow Death by Rubber Duck introduces us to the hidden and insidious menu of toxic chemicals we breathe, eat and drink everyday. If you want a wake-up call about the type and quantity of checmicals that are all around us; if you need another reminder of the self-serving state of corporations and their so-called "self-regulation"; if you care about your health and the environment - buy the book or at least get it out of your local public library.

The final chapter of the book contains a practical list of products to avoid (and substitute) - it should probably be a fridge magnet.

Of course there are nay-sayers. Smith and Lourie identify some of the incredibly stuid things that some have said in defense of their product. Here's one illustration:
Dr. John Graham, Founding Director of Harvard University's Harvard Center for Rick Analysis (HCRA), in a speech in Washingtion DC
"talked about the potential benefits of global warming and how nitrous oxide emissions from coal plants may be good for our farms. He also suggested that too little research has been done on the potential health benefits of dioxin, one of the world's most nortoriously deadly substances" [p210] - not bad for some opening remarks.
HCRA is funded by the chemical, pharmaceutical, petroleum and other large industrial companies, as well as the US government and Health Canada.

Well worth reading


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