Slow Death By Rubber Duck, The Secret Danger of Everyday Things is one the ultimate environmental lifestyle experiments. Its message has stayed with and influenced me on a daily basis since I read it a few years ago. This review is a few years overdue, but there is no better place for it than a site dedicated to the environmental professional lifestyle.
The premise of the book is two environmental scientists and the authors, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, put themselves through a Super Size Me like exposure to several everyday chemicals that you probably don’t know you’re exposed to and measure the levels in their body.
They found that even brief exposure to these chemicals showed drastic increases in their bodies. The positive finding was that when you remove your exposure, the levels go down. As with all toxicology, people’s bodies will react differently to different dosages and exposures. It’s a perfect human experiment to illustrate that dose x exposure = risk. Although the dosage is low, the exposure is high.
As an environmental professional, my friends don’t know exactly what I do. (There’s not a tv show about environmental professionals.) Introducing them to this book and its message has been a great way for me to help them understand. It has also helped me make a connection to my students. I teach environmental, health and safety courses to non-environmental adults. Many of who have never even heard of BPA. So using this book and its pop culture and individual product connection has helped open some eyes and convey the message.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about how your couch, cookware, shampoo, food, and water can be slowly poisoning you.
One of my favorite anecdotes from the book is the following. Should I buy the regular ketchup in the glass bottle or the organic ketchup in the plastic bottle?
You can buy the book on Amazon, here.