Slow Death by Rubber Duck

Monday, March 08, 2010

Pollution is not just caused by industrial smokestacks; it’s also caused by commonplace items in our homes and workplaces. Bruce Lourie discusses pollution in our modern world. Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things, written with Rick Smith, looks into the corporate manufacturers of toxins, government regulations, and pollution’s effects on human health around the world.

Event: Bruce Lourie will be speaking, reading, and signing books
Tuesday, March 9, at 7:00 pm
Columbus Circle Borders
10 Columbus Circle


Bruce Lourie

Comments [33]

Bee from Somerville

One thing I'd like to express when it comes to fish and mercury poisoining due to sushi grade tuna. Maybe the Japanese haven't succumbed to mercury poisioning yet, because traditionally sushi is supposed to be eaten for special occassions, unlike here in the US where we eat it willy nilly and slap down money like we can afford it!

Mar. 12 2010 04:07 PM
Mark Oriole from Manhatten

Teflon has many industrial applications, but it was a bad mistake to line cookware with it. There are new healthy non-stick options which are far superior. Green Pan is the one I settled on. Not only is it non-toxic even at high temps, but has a ceramic underlayer which lasts forever.

Mar. 09 2010 01:58 PM

well done maggie...appears there is a lawsuit and big fines too...a quick google search offers up this mention, for starters...

Mar. 08 2010 10:21 PM
maggie from nj

better yet, check out the Dupont site, re: teflon--

which says:
"Some people keep their pet birds in the kitchen. It's a natural gathering place for family, friends and pets. But bird owners should be aware that there are potential dangers in the kitchen, too. Cooking fumes, smoke and odors that have little or no effect on people can seriously sicken and even kill some pet birds, often quite quickly. Dr. Karen Rosenthal, DVM offers tips to keep pet birds safe [pdf].

Mar. 08 2010 01:13 PM
maggie from nj

re hank # 16--
check Snopes--it's true, our family bird did die of toxic fumes from a nonstick pan--I checked it out on several veterinary sites, (then with my own vet) and it is a common cause that is not widely know.

Mar. 08 2010 01:05 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

#27 Barbara,
The low-tech approach I’ve heard is if your great-grandparents wouldn’t recognize, don’t use or buy it.

Mar. 08 2010 01:02 PM
Barbara from Montclair

There's a great database website by one of the groups he mentioned: Environmental Working Group (which also just released that study on cell phone radiation). Search: "Skin Deep" or "cosmetics database": shows majority of all those soaps, shampoos, sunlotion, etc. we use. You can't trust the "green" store (WF or local) to be safe. Use this database and pressure your stores & contact manufacturers!

Mar. 08 2010 12:49 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

#21, I think some kind of starch or cellulose is used as the anticaking agent in pre-shredded cheese, not embalming fluid. A handheld stainless steel cheese shredder and block cheese eliminates the threat.

Mar. 08 2010 12:45 PM

16-- hank, you're right, sounds too true to be true. I just contacted relaying your skepticism, perhaps they'll look into it.

Mar. 08 2010 12:45 PM
Carol from Manhattan

When I was pregnant the only thing I wanted to eat was tuna salad sandwiches. I ate one almost every day for about 6 months. My daughter is now 13, and seems fine, but I tend to blame myself for any of her failings, thinking she suffered mercury poisoning in utero. Is this possible? Or would mercury poisoning express itself in obvious ways?

Mar. 08 2010 12:42 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I've read (from Center for Science in the Public Interest) that triclosan doesn't kill enough of the bacteria to keep resistant strains from breeding & could therefore actually make bacteria in our environment more dangerous.

Mar. 08 2010 12:38 PM
Tim from Montclair

I thought the ability to dupont over Teflon was outlawed under the Homeland security legislation. Please comment

Mar. 08 2010 12:36 PM
MIKE from NJ

Is that truth there is embalm fluids os shreded cheese to prevent stick togheter?????

Mar. 08 2010 12:33 PM
Grace from Manhattan

What do you do to remove these chemicals from your body? I've heard of chelation but don't know much about it.

Mar. 08 2010 12:33 PM


Mar. 08 2010 12:32 PM
Simon MacArthur from Brooklyn

Is there any government investigation into aspartame poisoning. It has been connected to multiple sclerosis and lupus.

Mar. 08 2010 12:32 PM
Bob from Montclair

our son's allergist just had us replace ALL the "soft" furniture in our apartment with vinyl. Did we just trade allergies for endocrine disruption? WHY DON'T DOCTORS KNOW ABOUT THIS STUFF??

Mar. 08 2010 12:32 PM
Hank Borelli from Brooklyn

I'm calling BS on the claim that if you heat a non-stick pan in your kitchen and there's a bird in the kitchen, the bird will drop dead.

That smells of urban myth.

Mar. 08 2010 12:31 PM
Jessica Glendinning from Highlands, NJ

I am the maker of NATURAL soaps and bath and body products and I specifically label my products as phalate free and search out ingredients that DO NOT have these toxic chemicals in my items-with my two young children in mind, as well as the environmental effects.
Thank you for highlighting this hidden problem.

Mar. 08 2010 12:28 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

You can buy wooden teething rings. They are unvarnished, free of harmful chemicals, renewable, biodegradable, made of non splintering wood, and can be washed.

Mar. 08 2010 12:28 PM
shannon kay from brooklyn, NY

Is there any evidence that the chemicals in toys and other common products relate to the rise in autism levels? Why isn't this something we hear about--contrary to, say, the (unproven) link to inoculations?

Mar. 08 2010 12:28 PM
JP from NJ

Is there any “coating” on tinfoil? If on some, are cheaper store brands less likely to have a coating (assuming the coating would be an extra coast for a slicker surface on name brands)?

Mar. 08 2010 12:27 PM
Jane from New Jersey

Is Teflon dental floss dangerous?

Mar. 08 2010 12:27 PM

What about Isoproply which I have seen in many products?

Mar. 08 2010 12:25 PM
Rich K from UC, NJ

Speaking of Teflon (Silverstone, etc.) what about the new ceramic nonstick coatings like EcoCook or GreenPan?

Mar. 08 2010 12:25 PM
Phthalate Student from London, UK

Your guest said he was unaware of phthalates in food, but they are present in many foods at low concentrations. Food packaging is limited in the amount of phthalates it can contain, but oily foods especially can easily take up phthalates from food packaging.

Mar. 08 2010 12:24 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Using and not using some chemicals comes down to choice and which ones you’re willing to make.
If you don’t like Teflon (like me) don’t use it. Cook in stainless steel, glass, or cast iron (far from being cost prohibitive materials). Nobody needs a rice cooker, use a pot. I believe glass baby bottles are still available (breast are too). Select children’s toys carefully or just don’t buy children so much stuff. Buy fresh and not canned. Don’t buy anything packaged in plastic (aside from maybe plastic lined cans), you’ll still be able to eat and you’ll probably be healthier for it.
Most of the chemicals (outside of the ones that have worked their way into the food chain and water supply) are in stuff we don’t need anyway. Don’t try to substitute them, just don’t buy them.

Mar. 08 2010 12:24 PM
JT from Long Island

I have a baby on the way and among the gifts we've gotten are teething rings and various plastic toys that will inevitably go into a baby's mouth. Are any of these safe?

Mar. 08 2010 12:20 PM
Estelle from Austin

So are pthalates released mainly when the child chews on the toy? Or by merely touching them? Or do these objects release compounds into the air?
Are hard plastic toys safer?

P.S. Constant problems submitting comments; I've read others' complaints about this too.

Mar. 08 2010 12:20 PM
for the teeth grinder...

(I ask this after seeing a mouth guard advertised as "Phalate Free". These are in the mouth 5-8 hours per night and often recommended by dentists...)

Mar. 08 2010 12:18 PM
JT from Long Island

Should we worry when generic terms are used on ingredients list? I see "Fragrance" listed often and always wonder what that really means.

Mar. 08 2010 12:13 PM
adair from brooklyn

What government agencies (or other) are supposed to be watchdogs of how these materials are used in products and why aren't they doing it?

*Are there any advocacy groups that we can join to pressure the government and corporations for greater regulations?

Mar. 08 2010 12:11 PM
for the teeth grinder...


Mar. 08 2010 12:11 PM

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