You Are a Guinea Pig: Americans Exposed to Biohazards in Great Uncontrolled Experiment

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By David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, the co-authors and co-editors of seven books and 85 articles on a variety of industrial and occupational hazards, including Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution and, most recently, Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children. Rosner is a professor of history at Columbia University and co-director of the Center for the History of Public Health at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. Markowitz is a professor of history at John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Cross posted from TomDispatch

A hidden epidemic is poisoning America. The toxins are in the air we breathe and the water we drink, in the walls of our homes and the furniture within them. We can’t escape it in our cars. It’s in cities and suburbs. It afflicts rich and poor, young and old. And there’s a reason why you’ve never read about it in the newspaper or seen a report on the nightly news: it has no name — and no antidote.

The culprit behind this silent killer is lead. And vinyl. And formaldehyde. And asbestos. And Bisphenol A. And polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). And thousands more innovations brought to us by the industries that once promised “better living through chemistry,” but instead produced a toxic stew that has made every American a guinea pig and has turned the United States into one grand unnatural experiment.

Today, we are all unwitting subjects in the largest set of drug trials ever. Without our knowledge or consent, we are testing thousands of suspected toxic chemicals and compounds, as well as new substances whose safety is largely unproven and whose effects on human beings are all but unknown. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) itself has begun monitoring our bodies for 151 potentially dangerous chemicals, detailing the variety of pollutants we store in our bones, muscle, blood, and fat. None of the companies introducing these new chemicals has even bothered to tell us we’re part of their experiment. None of them has asked us to sign consent forms or explained that they have little idea what the long-term side effects of the chemicals they’ve put in our environment — and so our bodies — could be. Nor do they have any clue as to what the synergistic effects of combining so many novel chemicals inside a human body in unknown quantities might produce.

How Industrial Toxins Entered the American Home

The story of how Americans became unwitting test subjects began more than a century ago. The key figure was Alice Hamilton, the “mother” of American occupational medicine, who began documenting the way workers in lead paint pigment factories, battery plants, and lead mines were suffering terrible palsies, tremors, convulsions, and deaths after being exposed to lead dust that floated in the air, coating their workbenches and clothes.

Soon thereafter, children exposed to lead paint and lead dust in their homes were also identified as victims of this deadly neurotoxin. Many went into convulsions and comas after crawling on floors where lead dust from paint had settled, or from touching lead-painted toys, or teething on lead-painted cribs, windowsills, furniture, and woodwork.

Instead of leveling with the public, the lead industry through its trade group, the Lead Industries Association, began a six-decade-long campaign to cover-up its product’s dire effects. It challenged doctors who reported lead-poisoned children to health departments, distracted the public through advertisements that claimed lead was “safe” to use, and fought regulation of the industry by local government, all in the service of profiting from putting a poison in paint, gasoline, plumbing fixtures, and even toys, baseballs, and fishing gear.

As Joe Camel would be for tobacco, so the little Dutch Boy of the National Lead Company became an iconic marketing tool for Dutch Boy Lead Paint, priming Americans to invite a dangerous product into their children’s playrooms, nurseries, and lives. The company also launched a huge advertising campaign that linked lead to health, rather than danger. It even produced coloring books for children, encouraging them to paint their rooms and furniture using lead-based paint.

Only after thousands of children were poisoned and, in the 1960s, activist groups like the Young Lords and the Black Panthers began to use lead poisoning as a symbol of racial and class oppression did public health professionals and the federal government begin to rein in companies like the Sherwin-Williams paint company and the Ethyl Corporation, which produced tetraethyl lead, the lead-additive in gasoline. In 1971, Congress passed the Lead Paint Poisoning Prevention Act that limited lead in paint used for public housing. In 1978, the Consumer Products Safety Commission finally banned lead in all paints sold for consumer use. During the 1980s, the Environmental Protection Agency issued rules that led to the elimination of leaded gasoline by 1995 (though it still remains in aviation fuel).

The CDC estimates that in at least 4 million households in the U.S. today children are still exposed to dangerous amounts of lead from old paint that produces dust every time a nail is driven into a wall to hang a picture, a new electric socket is installed, or a family renovates its kitchen. It estimates that more than 500,000 children ages one to five have “elevated” levels of lead in their blood. (No level is considered safe for children.) Studies have linked lost IQ points, attention deficit disorders, behavioral problems, dyslexia, and even possibly high incarceration rates to tiny amounts of lead in children’s bodies.

Unfortunately, when it came to the creation of America’s chemical soup, the lead industry was hardly alone. Asbestos is another classic example of an industrial toxin that found its way into people’s homes and bodies. For decades, insulation workers, brake mechanics, construction workers, and a host of others in hundreds of trades fell victim to the disabling and deadly lung diseases of asbestosis or to lung cancer and the fatal cancer called mesothelioma when they breathed in dust produced during the installation of boilers, the insulation of pipes, the fixing of cars that used asbestos brake linings, or the spraying of asbestos on girders. Once again, the industry knew its product’s dangers early and worked assiduously to cover them up.

Despite growing medical knowledge about its effects (and increasing industry attempts to downplay or suppress that knowledge), asbestos was soon introduced to the American home and incorporated into products ranging from insulation for boilers and piping in basements to floor tiles and joint compounds. It was used to make sheetrock walls, roof shingles, ironing boards, oven gloves, and hot plates. Soon an occupational hazard was transformed into a threat to all consumers.

Today, however, these devastating industrial-turned-domestic toxins, which destroyed the health and sometimes took the lives of hundreds of thousands, seem almost quaint when compared to the brew of potential or actual toxins we’re regularly ingesting in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.

Of special concern are a variety of chlorinated hydrocarbons, including DDT and other pesticides that were once spread freely nationwide, and despite being banned decades ago, have accumulated in the bones, brains, and fatty tissue of virtually all of us. Their close chemical carcinogenic cousins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), were found in innumerable household and consumer products — like carbonless copy paper, adhesives, paints, and electrical equipment – from the 1950s through the 1970s. We’re still paying the price for that industrial binge today, as these odorless, tasteless compounds have become permanent pollutants in the natural environment and, as a result, in all of us.

The Largest Uncontrolled Experiment in History

While old houses with lead paint and asbestos shingles pose risks, potentially more frightening chemicals are lurking in new construction going on in the latest mini-housing boom across America. Our homes are now increasingly made out of lightweight fibers and reinforced synthetic materials whose effects on human health have never been adequately studied individually, let alone in the combinations we’re all subjected to today.

Formaldehyde, a colorless chemical used in mortuaries as a preservative, can also be found as a fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant in, for example, plywood, particle board, hardwood paneling, and the “medium density fiberboard” commonly used for the fronts of drawers and cabinets or the tops of furniture. As the material ages, it evaporates into the home as a known cancer-producing vapor, which slowly accumulates in our bodies. The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health suggests that homeowners “purchasing pressed-wood products, including building material, cabinetry, and furniture… should ask about the formaldehyde content of these products.”

What’s inside your new walls might be even more dangerous. While the flame retardants commonly used in sofas, chairs, carpets, love seats, curtains, baby products, and even TVs, sounded like a good idea when widely introduced in the 1970s, they turn out to pose hidden dangers that we’re only now beginning to grasp. Researchers have, for instance, linked one of the most common flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, to a wide variety of potentially undesirable health effects including thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, lower IQ, and the early onset of puberty.

Other flame retardants like Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate have been linked to cancer. As the CDC has documented in an ongoing study of the accumulation of hazardous materials in our bodies, flame retardants can now be found in the blood of “nearly all” of us.

Nor are these particular chemicals anomalies. Lurking in the cabinet under the kitchen sink, for instance, are window cleaners and spot removers that contain known or suspected cancer-causing agents. The same can be said of cosmetics in your makeup case or of your plastic water bottle or microwavable food containers. Most recently, Bisphenol A (BPA), the synthetic chemical used in a variety of plastic consumer products, including some baby bottles, epoxy cements, the lining of tuna fish cans, and even credit card receipts, has been singled out as another everyday toxin increasingly found inside all of us.

Recent studies indicate that its effects are as varied as they are distressing. As Sarah Vogel of the Environmental Defense Fund has written, “New research on very-low-dose exposure to BPA suggests an association with adverse health effects, including breast and prostate cancer, obesity, neurobehavioral problems, and reproductive abnormalities.”

Teflon, or perfluorooctanoic acid, the heat-resistant, non-stick coating that has been sold to us as indispensable for pots and pans, is yet another in the list of substances that may be poisoning us, almost unnoticed. In addition to allowing fried eggs to slide right onto our plates, Teflon is in all of us, according to the Science Advisory Board of the Environmental Protection Agency, and “likely to be carcinogenic in humans.”

These synthetic materials are just a few of the thousands now firmly embedded in our lives and our bodies. Most have been deployed in our world and put in our air, water, homes, and fields without being studied at all for potential health risks, nor has much attention been given to how they interact in the environments in which we live, let alone our bodies. The groups that produce these miracle substances — like the petrochemical, plastics, and rubber industries, including major companies like Exxon, Dow, and Monsanto — argue that, until we can definitively prove the chemical products slowly leaching into our bodies are dangerous, we have no “right,” and they have no obligation, to remove them from our homes and workplaces. The idea that they should prove their products safe before exposing the entire population to them seems to be a foreign concept.

In the 1920s, the oil industry made the same argument about lead as an additive in gasoline, even though it was already known that it was a dangerous toxin for workers. Spokesman for companies like General Motors insisted that it was a “gift of God,” irreplaceable and essential for industrial progress and modern living, just as the lead industry argued for decades that lead was “essential” to produce good paint that would protect our homes.

Like the oil, lead, and tobacco industries of the twentieth century, the chemical industry, through the American Chemistry Council and public relations firms like Hill & Knowlton, is fighting tooth and nail to stop regulation and inhibit legislation that would force it to test chemicals before putting them in the environment. In the meantime, Americans remain the human guinea pigs in advanced trials of hundreds if not thousands of commonly used, largely untested chemicals. There can be no doubt that this is the largest uncontrolled experiment in history.

To begin to bring it under control would undoubtedly involve major grassroots efforts to push back against the offending corporations, courageous politicians, billions of dollars, and top-flight researchers. But before any serious steps are likely to be taken, before we even name this epidemic, we need to wake up to its existence.

A toxic dump used to be a superfund site or a nuclear waste disposal site. Increasingly, however, we — each and every one of us — are toxic dumps and for us there’s no superfund around, no disposal plan in sight. In the meantime, we’re walking, talking biohazards and we don’t even know it.

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38 comments

  1. Clive

    Anyone who’s ever had certain types of prescription medication knows that tiny, tiny amounts of chemicals are all that is necessary to have major systemic effects on the body. I didn’t realise just how significant this phenomenon is until I was prescribed two medications after an eye operation.

    Chloramphenicol, an antibiotic, had no obvious side effects (I was only on two drops a day) until I realised that an old, very small bruise wasn’t healing up. It then went from not healing up to growing to a patch about three square inches. Dexamethasone, an immunosuppressant increased intraocular pressure in a matter of weeks. I was lucky. Another person I know with the same condition developed diabetes after only 6 months on four drops a day initially (and this was reduced to 2 after a few months into the course).

    We’re talking about exposures in the order of 0.5 millilitres per day (sorry, can’t work in imperial measures (!), let’s say 0.1 fluid oz or less). It’s the cumulative dose that adds up.

    And this is chemicals in prescription medication — with well researched and clearly understood doses and consequent side effects. If you’re on prescription medication, the clinicians first question is “are you taking any other drugs ?” which they can then look up for known interactions.

    It’s appalling what we simply chuck into the environment in a blasé fashion, hoping that nothing goes wrong.

    1. Ben Johannson

      What’s frightening is that no matter how you choose to live (short of your own mountaintop) you’re exposed to tens of thousands of untested chemicals on a daily basis. There is no healthy living.

      1. Walt

        Worse still, you can’t escape smog on mountain tops: the “regional haze” in the eastern U.S. is chiefly acid sulfate from power plants; the western U.S. receives China’s emissions.

  2. PoliticalSeason

    I find articles of this sort to be pretty unhelpful and unsmart in approach. Your average person, let alone me, will read this and feel nothing but overwhelmed by it. Our whole world is poisoned by corporate elites with the willing complicity of government? The framing of the entire issue is done in a way that makes it seem hopeless. The picture it painted was so bleak, I found myself dismissing it as beyond my control, so why worry about it?

    1. Inverness

      It is quite bleak — that’s just the truth, and we can’t run away from it. But awareness is the first level.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Or Mycelium Running. It isn’t clear to me that a high civilization has to be industrially based, or as industrially based as this one; we really ought to be designing whatever we make so that Gaia can consume it, and making sure that only things that are truly precious can’t be broken down. Surely my case of the laptop I’m using right now could be made out of cellulose? And so forth.

    2. Clive

      I use think like that, so I can understand the despondency. But if resigned apathy is one option then so is individual resistance. It’s not any more effort to stand up, even if only for yourself that it is to passively acquiesce.

      Don’t buy products from unethical corporations.

      Do buy goods and services from small, local institutions who take the time and trouble to have a sound environmental impact policy and/or support traceability.

      Do find out where there are co-operatives and choose them when considering where to place your business.

      Don’t support candidates in elections who either condone or — worse — are in they pay of — polluters. If there’s not “good” candidate, vote for a crazy as a protest. (Don’t not vote unless you absolutely have to)

      Do buy products which obviously make an effort to reduce packaging.

      Do buy organic where possible. If it costs more, buy less (it’s very rare to make a case we in western societies are *under fed* — however, if you are on minimum wage or have a family to support I do appreciate this is a luxury you might not be able to afford; if you can afford it, though, do so).

      Try not driving all the time. If you’re in a rural community, I know, it’s not — or rarely — an option. But city folk, come on, make the effort.

      … and that’s just for starters. I can guarantee even not one gram of polluting effluent is saved from going into the environment by doing these sorts of things (and even just thinking about how you personally can stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution), you’ll feel a ton better about things because you’ve not given up on yourself — and humanity.

      1. Otishertz

        Americans are so emasculated that the only possibilities they can imagine to influence change in their world are solely within their purchasing habits. They see their purchasing power as their only personal power.

        So pathetic. So passive.

        No one can conceive of any resistance beyond slightly altering their consumption choices or substituting products for spite.

        1. Clive

          I disagree. The merest hint of popular resentment against Starbucks in the UK shamed them into coughing up £20M in “voluntary” tax payments. A sham and not nearly what they really owe but not a bad result. Why would one choose, voluntarily, to give up one the bargaining chips one holds ? I don’t get your argument at all.

          Yes, the world — and our western society especially — is far too materialistic. But spending choices are all the more powerful as a result. I’ll take my victories where I can get them.

    3. William Neil

      Yes, pretty tough read, Political Season, but a necessary antidote, to the formulations of Thomas Friedman, writing in his column today, urging everyone to invent more, run faster, accelerate, no time to consider all the questions raised by this inhumane treadmill of a system. We don’t understand what we have done chemically 25 years ago, much less what pours out or into us today. `Even science itself, which helps raise the questions in this article, has come under attack when it asks the broader deeper questions of cumulative impacts, where we are going and at what costs. About time someone asked about the costs of “creative destruction.”

  3. Steve Ruble

    One problem with this otherwise helpful article: perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, is not the same thing as Teflon. PFOA is a chemical used in the manufacture of Teflon and other materials, but it isn’t present in significant amounts in products containing Teflon. It may be a dangerous chemical – and in fact the EPA is working with manufacturers to reduce its usage, and DuPont has stopped using PFOA to make Teflon – but it’s not very helpful to make people scared of their Teflon-coated frying pans. (Teflon coated pans aren’t dangerous unless heated above 600 F.)

    More info from the EPA here: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/pubs/faq.html

    There are plenty of good reasons to be concerned about industrial chemicals and their effects on us; there’s no need to provide bad reasons.

  4. LAS

    Gee. I wouldn’t call the exposures an “experiment”. It’s more like a flood of uncalibrated mixed exposures. That’s the real problem in it. There’s so many confounding variables that truth is not obvious. Proving toxicity takes a lot of money, time and effort to prove. This delays regulation for decades, possibly forever.

    1. diptherio

      “It’s more like a flood of uncalibrated mixed exposures.”

      Maybe that’s what he means by “uncontrolled experiment”: no control groups

      And you’re right on about regulation: Cost-Benefit Analysis may well be the death of us all.

  5. F. Beard

    Thanks for reminding me that I might want to do a water-only fast to detox my body.

  6. roots

    Speaking of the toxic stew we live in, consider the little stickers put on practically every piece of fruit and vegetables sold in stores and supermarkets. Although I’m not certain, I’ll bet the glue used on those stickers is quite toxic. Look carefully the next time you pull the sticker off an apple and if the light is right you’ll see a bit of residual glue left behind on the skin of the fruit. If you don’t thoroughly wash and scrub or cut off the area where the sticker was attached, then you’re ingesting heavy duty industrial chemicals.

    1. issacread

      not to mention the genetic engineering they have in mind to do nifty things for that apple like prevent it from browning once you slice it, and the emerging list of horrors such monkey business poses to all life forms on the planet; see i-sis.org.uk

    2. Barmitt O'Bamney

      I don’t know this but the adhesive used is probably “gum arabic”, just as you would find on the back of postage stamps. If so, there is nothing to worry about. Pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables might be a different story, though.

      Gum Arabic is a more or less “natural” product from the acacia tree (I know: lots of natural products are absolutely lethal), and is an old companion of civilization. Because its use goes back many centuries we’ve had ample opportunity to observe any ill effects. And because it is used so widely –marshmallows, softdrinks, gummy bears, as well as printmaking and a host of industrial uses– it has also been scientifically studied. Gum Arabic is thought to be harmless (although as a natural product there is a lot of variation in its chemistry). Not everything is out to kill you.

  7. MB

    First, as my husband always says when studies claim effects from low low doses of environmental chemicals, “people willingly take much larger doses of prescribed drugs that we don’t know that much about (especially interactions with other drugs) and think nothing of it.” we have the ability to collect this info through a national health data base but no one wants that so we continue on this vast pharmacological experiment.

    Second, we baby boomers and our parents all grew up in lead paint environments, air filled with lead from tetra ethyl gasoline and with secondhand smoke as well. How did we escape the harms of these toxins? (rates of learning disabilities, breathing stuff, etc are much higher now) I once asked this question of the head of public health of a major US city. His response was that some people think it is reflected in the craziness of the baby boomers.

    Don’t get me wrong. I believe that lead is a neurotoxin. The first association with paint chips and toxicity came from children on porches in I believe Australia in the early 1900s and they banned lead in paint quickly. The US was very very late in this game due to corporate pressure. But I find the “any” level is harmful argument to be very suspect. There is always a cost benefit analysis and we are very poor at this evaluation. Now the get rid of lead at any cost creates a new interest group.

    I wonder how many people who fear nuclear power have ever thought to add up all the people killed and sickened by coal mining? Could you answer this question? It’s like the massive coverage of the Boston bombs vs the Texas explosion. An industrial accident is much more likely to affect an American citizen, yet we fear the foreign terrorist. Americans just can’t do math or more likely don’t care to do math.

    Now I will rant about that. I do believe we need much better regulation of the chemical industries but it takes an interest in understanding science (and some tax revenue) to do this well and no one but us geeks cares about learning that so what are the chances that we’ll have any decent regulation? Zilch.

    All that science and math teaching that everyone thought we needed so much more hasn’t moved the meter one bit because everyone hates the subject so of course their kids hate it too. Can you tell I am a former science teacher? Chemistry.

  8. Jim in SC

    I believe that a lot of what we accept as natural cognitive decline in the elderly is in fact the result of cumulative exposure to drugs, or combinations of drugs. Prednisone is a big culprit, with lingering effects the medical industrial complex doesn’t acknowledge.

    1. jrs

      Wow what’s your thoughts on Prednisone and senility? Have any links? I could see several mechanisms of action depending on several theories of causation. It’s an immune suppresant so to the extent diseases of cognitive decline turn out to be infections. Also “Corticosteroid agents mimic the endogenous steroid hormones that the adrenal cortex produces, which include aldosterone and cortisol” thus it seems to me that at least some corticosteriods mimic the stress response, which we know is bad for the brain. Of course things like Alzheimers have a pretty strong genetic component as well.

    2. Lyle

      A question is has senility increased due to this, or is it a natural process that was disguised in the past be infectious diseases? Fewer lived to old age in the past, so fewer had the chance to get old age senility.
      I doubt the information is there to make answer the question, since we don’t know what else might be linked to the tendency for senility that could have worked with infection to cause premature deaths in the past.

  9. petridish

    “And this is chemicals in prescription medication — with well researched and clearly understood doses and consequent side effects.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure about that. The sheer number of Rx’s taken daily by many Americans precludes any adequate investigation into potential interactions, not to mention the shenanigans involved in getting the drug approved in the first place. And, in fact, drug interactions are fatal in significant numbers annually.

    I’d imagine interactions with environmental chemicals already in the body have never even been considered. l

    1. Clive

      The fault is mine — I really should have included a “mostly” or “somewhat” in my comment ! You’re right, there’s some understanding but it is a long way short of comprehensive.

  10. Susan the other

    One thing that could be done in spite of the complexity of the situation is we could demand an option to live free of dangerous chemicals. If we demanded the option, as consumers, to have one line of products certified toxic free. Analogous to allergy-free products. That line of products would sell so well that nobody would even have to test the other crap because there would be no demand for it. This simple solution has been suppressed by the industry that benefits. You have to wonder why they cooked up so many chemicals in the first place. I doubt it is because modern society needs them but because they replace something more expensive or less competitive. It’s quite possible we are not just “over-banked” but massively over chemicaled. Scaling back the chemical industry would open the doors for lots of new industry. It is not a complex problem. The big chemical companies simply have power like banksters to poison us at will.

  11. Claudius

    Yes, a lot of these are poisons and generally nasty substances that I would never want to east, drink absorb or be exposed to. But one of the key determinants of defining a poison is the Minimum Lethal Dose (MLD); what is the minimum amount of a particular substance that will, cumulatively, kill me? From there I can make a reasonable assessment as to my risk of substances I’m exposed to everyday.

    Nowhere in this article is MLD mentioned. Water, oxygen, sugar, alcohol, heroin, plutonium, cyanide all have a minimum lethal dose/exposure, and a half life (the rate at which it decays to….well, not the same thing. And, an antidote by the way). The combination of the two factors (MLD and HL) to some ratio or another will, surely, kill you at some point. But, simply saying that you are being exposed to formaldehyde, tobacco, marijuana or…. rat shit doesn’t tell you how harmful it is or whether a life time of exposure or ten seconds of exposure is benign or lethal.

    I prefer not to be exposed to any harmful substances, ever (I‘d rather live in an organic utopia where modern tall buildings were made of adobe, we all ran our cars like the Flinstones and a gin and tonic (ice with a squeeze of lemon) didn’t destroy my liver cells. But a plastic bubble rolling down the highway to my mud office, in the rain, doesn’t make for a good commute unless I have quite a few G&T’s (But, we know what that does to my liver).

  12. jrs

    I orignally saw this article in Tom Dispatch and his foreward is even better than the piece itself (the brutal effects of Corexit, unethical experiments on African American children with lead in the 1990s!), really worth reading:

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175693/tomgram%3A_rosner_and_markowitz%2C_your_body_is_a_corporate_test_tube/

    (Yea I know Tom Dispatch is a sellout Obama supporter and those who can fully see everything that’s wrong with the world and willingly market the drone king are pretty much the worst you can get politically. But nontheless, he writes good stuff, on empire and the environment.)

    1. Expat

      For an authoritative look at what we are up against, consider this story from a couple of years ago. The story begins —

      “The American Chemical Society registers twelve thousand new substances every day. And according to their records, there are nearly 45 million different commercially available chemicals sold worldwide. But data on the potential hazards these chemicals pose is available for only a very small percentage.

      “That’s why Professor Patricia Hunt has sounded a call for swifter and sounder testing of chemicals. She’s a reproductive biologist at The Washington State University School of Molecular Biosciences and author of a letter that appears in the current issue of the journal Science. ”

      http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=11-P13-00010&segmentID=3

    2. YankeeFrank

      I never got that impression from TomDispatch at all. They are equal-opportunity bashers of our corporate-state nexus. Purity tests are stupid anyway.

  13. TomDor

    nano-tech – nano materials have high environmental persistence and have been shown to penetrate living cell walls. It is a material that may fall into the same domain as asbestos – yet another unaddressed (potential problem) material.
    All pre 1979 homes must be tested for lead before any work can be performed by a contractor or trade that has potential to release this substance- beware incompetent housing speculators before flipping that spot you got in foreclosure.

    GMO foods have not been studied for possible gene expression lateral moves in the environment and, studies showing negative effects on mice eating GMO corn should wake some folks up – the corporations, however, are very quick to quash the reports and question both the scientists reputation and the validity of the mouse. LOL
    Money is at the root of all business.

    1. MRW

      AND CILANTRO!

      Only food substance that is stronger than any pills on the market to rid body of heavy metals. Discovered in 1995. No link.

  14. M. Hughes

    When we built our house in a rural area 30 years ago, it was like going back to my childhood: birds, animals, butterflies, bees, wildflowers, etc. everywhere.
    Now, I haven’t seen a snake, toad, or wood turtle in years. Butterflies are rare, as are grasshoppers, honeybees, mantises, etc. These are things that my world was full of as a child.
    The reason: the chemicals that everyone else out here now put on their lawns. Sure it kills weeds, but it appears to be pretty indiscriminate. I can’t be certain, but I have the feeling that chemicals that are toxic enough to kill all the weeds and all the insects must be toxic enough to kill lots of other things.
    I don’t think that chemicals in food are our only problem, just one that is particularly evident.

  15. rob

    I think the bottom line,is that this is a path of what our posterity will evolve with.There is no escaping modernity, and all the chemicals that means.
    This is in no way condoning the use of known “worse” chemicals in everything from food,childtoys,clothes,and everything else,etc,for the sake of “cost effectiveness”.It would be nice to think there were actual alternatives,but there aren’t.This is a trial by fire,we will not be able to avoid.I think the title of the article is apt.We ARE guinea pigs.Those trying to live an “organic” life, might save themselves SOME effects…but who knows what.Those that don’t, are getting more.But then there are populations like in china or russia, where the enviroment has been molested to the greatest extent possible.But, to worry about things that just “kill you”, is missing the boat.You die. you’re done…
    But these things that do effect the systems of the body,like the endocrine system,or the nervous system,or circulatory,etc…that MAY cause things like the obesity epidemic,or autism,or the inability to tell that democrats and republicans are the same thing,these are the subtle effects that may be never known.How can you have a possible cause of anything,when there is no way to provide a “control group”.Since we are all subject to various forms of pollution.I mean chemicals,electromagnetism,air,water,noise,etc.
    This is our brave new world.Between big brother,big pharma,big chemical,uncle sam,and the almighty dollar…we are only screwed,if you think about it.Ignorance only saves the worry.not the body.

  16. Noni Mausa

    A quarter century ago I was planning to acquire a parrot. Reading up on their care, I found that if a Teflon pan was left on a burner and became too hot, it would give off fumes that would kill any birds kept indoors.

    Now, all cage bird people know this, but why isn’t this knowledge alarming to the general public and regulators? If the fumes kill birds outright, isn’t it possible that it might have less drastic effects at lower, stovetop temperatures on human adults and children? Ya think?

    Noni

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