Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Review: Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health by Rick Smith, Bruce Lourie

Title: Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health
Authors: Rick Smith, Bruce Lourie 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Counterpoint
Publish Date: January 2010
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "The most dangerous pollution has always come from commonplace items in our homes and workplaces. Smith and Lourie ingested and inhaled a host of things that surround all of us all the time. This book exposes the extent to which we are poisoned every day of our lives. For this book, over the period of a week - the kind of week that would be familiar to most people - the authors use their own bodies as the reference point and tell the story of pollution in our modern world, 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. Parents and concerned citizens will have to read this book.

Key concerns raised in Slow Death by Rubber Duck:
• Flame-retardant chemicals from electronics and household dust polluting our blood.
• Toxins in our urine caused by leaching from plastics and run-of-the-mill shampoos, toothpastes and deodorant.
• Mercury in our blood from eating tuna.
• The chemicals that build up in our body when carpets and upholstery off-gas.

Ultimately hopeful, the book empowers readers with some simple ideas for protecting themselves and their families, and changing things for the better."

My Two Cents:

"Slow Death by Rubber Duck" is a entertaining take on why we need to care about the chemicals that we use and are around on a day in, day out basis. In plain language, the authors showcase information in an easy to understand way that is accessible to all. The book covers everything from plastics to antibiotics (the antibiotic and germ chapter was my personal favorite).

The writing of the book was good. I think that many readers fear picking up books like this if they don't feel well-versed in science but this book is accessible to those without science backgrounds. Throughout the book, the authors conduct experiments to show how all of these toxic chemicals that we may not even think about can affect us (and most striking for me: how QUICKLY they can affect us) were really well explained and really interesting.

This book depressed me, like really depressed me. It's a great book but it makes me feel the way that watching old "West Wing" episodes makes me feel. This book was written almost 10 years ago and there is still so much in this book that we haven't fixed or that we've fixed and now it seems like we're rolling things back under the new presidential administration. I hate that we're dealing with the same problems that we were dealing with almost a decade ago but here we are. The fact that we are still dealing with the same problems shows why books like this are still relevant almost a decade after having been written.

Overall, this is a good book about why we need to be more aware of chemicals. As one author says at the end of the book, the book is not anti-chemical (some chemicals are necessary and needed) but awareness is key and inclusion in various products we use should be well thought out.



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