What's Gotten Into Us? Staying Healthy in a Toxic World

McKay Jenkins. Random, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6803-6
Finding a mysterious orange-sized lump in his side after years of healthy living was a warning sign for Jenkins, a journalism professor at the University of Delaware. In the course of being diagnosed, he was grilled about his exposure to a frightening collection of toxins and realized he had no idea what he was inadvertently breathing, ingesting, and absorbing every day. "The more I began to look into it," he writes, "the clearer it became that we have spent our lives virtually marinating in toxic chemicals: in the water that comes through the tap; in the plastics we find in our baby toys or use to store our food; in our soaps and shampoos and cosmetics; in the products we use to clean our homes; in the chemicals we spray on our weeds and apply to turn our toilet paper white." Jenkins argues "that industry uses its clout at both federal and state levels to kill most efforts at increasing what we can know about these toxins.... most chemicals have never been even minimally scrutinized for their toxicity." In this serious exposé that is surprisingly entertaining and positive, Jenkins uncovers the ubiquity and danger of these chemicals and offers some solutions, both personal and political, including the fascinating and inspiring story of a Maine chemical toxins study, and the role played by Hannah Pingree, study volunteer and former Maine state house majority leader, in passing a comprehensive chemical safety bill in Maine. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/11/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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