Slow Death by Rubber Duck, by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie


Reviewed by Naomi Higenbottam Do you ever wonder how the toxic chemicals found in products we use in our daily lives affect our health? In this eye opening book, authors Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie spend 4 days ingesting and inhaling countless chemicals to help answer that question.

Slow Death by Rubber Duck takes a look at the toxic chemicals that we allow into our environment and how they are polluting people from all walks of life. Many people think of pollution as car exhaust or factory smoke but this book demonstrates that a whole world of toxic chemicals are hiding out in seemingly harmless places. Baby bottles. Furniture. Deodorants. Children’s clothing. Cooking pots. T.V.s. It’s a never ending and scary list. These toxins make their way into our bodies through our food, air and water.

Rick and Bruce spend four days in a room testing their body’s levels before and after exposure for toxic chemicals and hormone disruptors such as mercury, bisphenol A, phalathes, triclosan, PCBs and PBDEs. Many of these chemicals are derivatives of Benzene, a toxic chemical found in coal, natural gas and crude oil. It was startling to learn that so many products contain ingredients made from oil. The natural gas and oil we rely on to run our cars and heat our homes is destroying our health and our environment. There are no laws to protect us from the wealthy oil companies that have always put profit before public health. There is a lack of regulation which allows these companies to use these chemicals for more and more products, without proper labelling and without proper testing for health risks. Throughout the book, the authors discuss the long list of health effects linked to toxic chemical exposure including cancer, birth defects, respiratory illness and neurodevelopment disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

It is not all bad news. There is positive change happening. The authors give the readers hope that we can do something! People are becoming more aware of these toxic chemicals that are residing in our bodies and becoming more concerned with their long term effects on their health. This increased public awareness is quickly bringing the issue of toxic chemicals up the public’s priority list. Efforts have been made to ban the sale of children’s products that contain toxic chemicals. The book concludes with examples of how simple changes in consumer’s choices can detox their lives and how the average citizen can help to advocate for public policy change so that there will be laws that protect us from these chemicals and protect out environment.