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Being Clean and Pretty Has Toxic Costs

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THE BODY TOXIC by Nena Baker | Kirkus Reviews

Profession: Author. Event Coordinator. Film Executive.

Foreign Publisher. Literary Agent. Be prepared to be amazed at what is known and not known about thousands of chemicals that are used in our clothes, our homes, our pizza boxes, and just about everything else.

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She then explores the implications of humans harboring so many substances, including increased risk of 'cancers of the breast, testicles, and brain; lowered sperm count; early puberty; endometriosis and other defects of the female reproductive system; diabetes; obesity; attention deficit disorder; asthma; and autism. Her profile of UC Berkeley biologist Tyrone Hayes is particularly engaging, for he is not only a star researcher and teacher but also an impassioned advocate who was opposed by the chemical industry after his work on pesticides showed scary impacts on frogs.

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But it is an important one because Baker's is one of the growing number of voices shouting for reform and environmental cleanup. Baker does offer hope in the form of things they are doing in Europe to mitigate the damage. Moreover she also has a number of suggestions for avoiding, or limiting, our exposure to the more toxic chemicals we know about. The bill subjects three more phthalates to testing.

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It's a partial win because the bill has no impact on the wide use of phthalates pronounced THAL-ates in skin-care products. The author of a chilling new book that probes the health hazards of everyday things, says the bill marks a watershed moment for U.


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From nonstick coatings in microwave popcorn to the painful history of cosmetics, Nena Baker relates several cases of modern industry's disregard for the safety of its customers. The apparent lack of accountability is staggering when looking at the breadth of some of the pollution in question. While Baker makes it clear that manufacturers are far from blameless, she also calls out U. The intimate communion between our bodies and the world around us is revealed here with uncommon clarity.

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Baker quotes researchers and activists who support her charges, provides the responses of chemical-industry representatives who reject them and cites companies that have taken action to reduce toxic substances in their products. Separate chapters explore what is known about the harmful effects and what has been done to restrict the use of five individual chemicals: atrazine, an agricultural weed killer; phthalates, found in cosmetics; polybrominated diphenyl ethers, widely used in ire retardants; Bisphenol A, an element in reusable plastic food containers and the lining of metal food cans; and perfluorinated chemicals, used in nonstick cookware, firefighting foams and floor cleaners.


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  4. Baker finds good news in the sweeping reforms enacted by the European Union, which in passed legislation requiring companies to prove their substances are harmless, in Canada's new chemicals-management plan and in the efforts in California, Michigan, Massachusetts and other states to institute chemical-policy reforms.

    While waiting for Congress to act, consumers can take steps to lighten the chemical load they are exposed to, she states, and offers her own guidelines for doing just that. An appendix sums up the essential facts about each of the five chemicals discussed and offers advice on avoiding them.

    A pithy call to action replete with frightening stories about what's hidden in the water we drink, the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the beds we sleep in. Chemicals used to make everything from water-repellant jackets and flame retardants to unbreakable plastics used for food storage are building up in our bodies and the environment with possible far-reaching consequences, says journalist Baker.