The Monster in the Covers

When the chemical Bisphenol A reached freakout levels on the “What’s Scaring Mommy?” scale, the industry responded: BPA-free baby bottles quickly appeared on store shelves, and Babies “R” Us began to phase out the offending products. It was a great example of the free market responding to customer fears. Only problem: It didn’t happen 20 years ago. It happened in 2008 — just two years ago. And the Food and Drug Administration didn’t get on board until just two weeks ago, stating in January that the agency has “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children.” (BPA, we’re sad to say, has been in commercial use since the '60s.). The takeaway is the usual one — we’re all going to die. But as detailed in Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie’s Slow Death by Rubber Duck, the pollution we should be worried about doesn’t just come from yonder smokestack. Rather, it creeps into our systems via all the crap (the PFCs, PFOAs, PSOSs, PCBs, and zillions more) drifting, oozing, leaching, and farting out of the myriad products populating our ridiculous lives, from the couch to the cookware, the hair gel to the deodorant, the flatscreen to the nonflammable pajamas. Ever the hard-evidence sleuths, the Canadian environmental activists tested products in the field — the field being a shabby, sad-looking apartment in which they spent two days cooking, cleaning, lotioning, huffing, and essentially living in ignorant splendor. Then they got their blood tested. The result? Any variation of “Oh, shit” captures it. To get an expanded version, meet the authors tonight, and go easy on the Right Guard Sport 3-D Odor Defense.
Tue., Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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