I remember exactly where I was four years ago when I heard Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith being interviewed about their groundbreaking book, Slow Death By Rubber Duck, on the Diane Rehm Show. I was out, walking my dog on the sunny, smoggy L.A. streets and I started to feel sick as I listened to all the toxins I had inadvertently been exposing myself to.
Growing up, I always avoided non-stick cookware, Triclosan and canned food. My mom had never kept these items in our house, other than a few cans of pop for parties, (which I never knew contained BPA until I read Slow Death By Rubber Duck). I always made sure the toiletries I used weren't tested on animals. I thought what I was using was harmless and I thought I was being a conscientious consumer.
But then, in under an hour, thanks to the interview, I learned about BPA, PBDEs, and phthalates, a funny word I wouldn't have been able to pronounce just a week earlier, that I now use so often my phone automatically suggests it when I type the letters "ph." I also found out more about the dangers of mercury, herbicides, Triclosan, and PFOAs.
Within a few weeks, I researched natural companies and found all natural or "greener" paraben/phthalate/bpa-free replacements for our cleaners, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, shaving foams, toothpastes, etc. We stopped buying the occasional canned drink and switched to bottles.
I found Slow Death By Rubber Duck to be so important and life-changing, I bought several copies for my family members and friends. (Needless to say, everyone was irritated with me). I decreased as much of the toxins as I could inside our house, knowing it wasn't possible to always decrease our exposure in the outside world, (Although I do travel with our own hand-soap. I don't want to expose my kids to unnecessary Triclosan and I don't want to use it either, especially when I'm pregnant or breastfeeding). This book was my guide. I referenced it all the time and it inspired me to start this blog, to share my product research. I had so fully utilized its information that I was confident when I was pregnant that my phthalate, BPA, Triclosan, PFOA, Herbicide and Mercury levels would be pretty low and my PBDE levels would be slightly lower than the average.
So of course, when I heard Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie had written a follow-up, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. And of course, when my family heard about this follow-up, they groaned. What more could I subject them to?
(Note: I received a complimentary copy of Toxin Toxout for review purposes. All opinions are my own).
Like Slow Death By Rubber Duck, Toxin Toxout is written in a casual, and humorous manner. Smith and Lourie make the scientific aspects of their research and experiments easy to understand, without dumbing it down. They continue to experiment on themselves, like they did in their earlier book but this time they have simple points to help us decrease the toxins from our bodies and our world.
In addition to covering the seven toxins mentioned in the first book, (anti-bacterial Triclosan, non-stick PFOAs, flame retardants, BPA, mercury, phthalates and herbicides), the book goes into great detail about toxins in our food, (and the benefits of organic food, exposing the flaws in the news story that made waves last year about organics not being healthier), and what to avoid eating. The authors take us inside the world of green cosmetics and toiletries, reminding us that the exponentially growing green industry has some good guys and not so good guys, since green claims aren't regulated, so we need to do a little research and look for certain certifications to know if what we are using really is as natural or harmless as it claims. Smith and Lourie explore our body's natural mechanisms for detoxing and encourage us to do it more. They look into some powerful toxins' associations with the sudden rise in allergies over the past few years and they cover green building products. The book's penultimate chapter goes into responsible consumerism, taking a look at what happens to the products we throw out. It is a powerful reminder to be conscious consumers and consider the people and environment being affected by our purchasing and disposing decisions.
Like its predecessor, the book ends with an uplifting chapter, (so you don't have a panic attack while walking your dog), with ten action points that are easy to follow to decrease your exposure in a practical way, knowing you can't always control what goes on outside your environment but you can control what happens in your own home, but it also goes one step further, encouraging readers to vote for politicians who support greener economies.
I firmly believe we can't just consume without knowing what we are doing to our bodies and to others. This book is a great inspiration to detox your toiletries, (if you haven't already, after reading Lourie and Smith's first book), slightly change your eating and exercise habits, and change the world on a larger scale through your vote, and on a smaller scale, like encouraging your child's schools or daycares to ditch the antibacterial products for regular soap (phthalate free? Even better!) and talking to your parks and recs departments, schools and neighbors about changing outdated notions of "green lawns" to be truly green.
While I don't think another book on toxins will have as much of an impact on my life as Slow Death By Rubber Duck, this is a great follow-up with important information and action points that can actually make a difference on a larger scale if enough people read it and share the information. So check it out and start making a difference, at home and in your world.
And for those of you wondering, most of my family members are now down with their natural or less-toxic products that have replaced the toxin-filled products of yore.
Toxin Toxout is available for purchase at your local book sellers and Amazon.
You can connect with Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie on Twitter @rjcsmith and @brucelourie
After reading Toxin Toxout, check out my blog links below for tips on how to further decrease your exposure to toxins and handy lists of non-toxic/less-toxic alternative products for cleaning, sleeping, and toiletries. You can search this blog for non-toxic toys as well from PlanToys and Haba, among other brands.*
Decrease Your Exposure to PFOAs
Decrease Your Exposure to Phthalates
Decrease Your Exposure to PBDEs
Decrease Your Exposure to BPA
Decrease Your Exposure to Herbicides, Pesticides, Insecticides and Fungicides
Decrease Your Exposure to Triclosan
Infant and Child Feeding Supplies
Sunscreen and Insect Repellant
Natural, phthalate-free air fresheners
Alternatives to plastic bottles
*(You can also search the toxins in this blog for more posts about product recommendations like natural wooden toys from Haba and PlanToys, PlanetBox lunchboxes, U Konserve containers and sandwich bags, and Naturepedic's Organic Kapok pillow).
Follow me on Twitter @soups25