Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Say It Ain't So, Rubber Ducky

Slow Death by Rubber Duck: the Secret Danger of Everyday Things by Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie; 615.902 S657s

Smith and Lourie have created one scary book. The titular rubber duck, for example, offers a poison soup of chemicals and heavy metals—chlorine, bromine, lead, and chromium—that “permeate the environment and humans.” The book details our addiction to and obsession with “better living through chemistry” (a common advertising slogan in the reviewer’s childhood). For example, one of the authors details how he discovered that his garden hose was treated with triclosan, a common anti-microbial chemical. Why would a garden hose need antimicrobial protection, especially with a chemical that persists in the environment—and creates dioxin on the way, creates chloroform in contact with treated water and may interfere with thyroid and reproductive functions?

Written in a style somewhere between dense academic treatises (ensuring that no one would read it) and Pollyanna-ish green-living manuals (ensuring that no one would pay real attention), Smith and Lourie have crafted a worthy guide for the thinking consumer.

Reviewed by Wendell Barnett

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