cover image Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children

Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children

Alice Shabecoff, Philip Shabecoff, . . Random, $26 (353pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-6430-4

The authors of this unsettling indictment of American industrial mendacity detail the impact of the “trillions of tons” of largely unregulated toxic pollutants that have been poured into the environment after WWII when synthetic chemical compounds entered mainstream life. The Shabecoffs argue that the world is becoming a perilous place for the young; fetuses, newborns and toddlers are vastly more vulnerable to environmental contaminants than adults, and hazards lie latent in teething rings (leaching plastic toxins), bath water (laced with chemical contaminants), lush lawns (dusted with herbicides) and the very air they breathe—all contributing directly to a “rising incidence of childhood illness,” including asthma, autism, cancer—once “a rarity” among children—and even a drop in average IQ. The authors build their compelling case against polluters like dogged prosecutors, condemning “perpetrators,” including General Electric and Dow Chemical, slamming “co-conspirators,” most prominently compliant conservative governments, and exposing “witnesses for the defense,” among them misleading scientists-for-hire. The authors' passionate exposé of corporate America's behavior is numbing in its impact; an appendix detailing steps parents can take to reduce risk eases the angst. (Aug. 12)