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John Wargo is a Professor of Risk Analysis, Environmental Policy, and Political Science, and Chair of the Yale College Environmental Studies Major and Program. He has been a professor at Yale since 1985 and has lectured extensively on the limits and potential of environmental law, with a focus on human health.

His latest book, Green Intelligence Creating Environments that Protect Human Health, winner of several prestigious awards, compares the history of five environmental threats to children’s health over the twentieth century: nuclear weapons testing, pesticides, hazardous sites, vehicle particulate emissions, and hormonally active ingredients in plastics.  Below is a video of  the introductory portion of a public-radio interview he gave about the book.

From wnycradio:

Yale University professor John Wargo discusses the impact of chemical exposures on women and children, and how, although people are growing more environmentally aware, there are still more than 80,000 synthetic compounds whose effects on human health havent been sufficiently studied. In his book, Green Intelligence: Creating Environments that Protect Human Health, he explains our misunderstanding of everyday chemical hazards and offers a plan for improving our awareness.

Listen to the entire interview here.

Click here to listen to John Wargo interviewed on NPR’s Living on Earth.

Foreword (ix – x):

“Curiously, the other common form of diabetes, type 1, also appears to be related to the stresses of the modern world, through a complex process, less well understood, by which the immune system mistakenly identifies as foreign the single hormonal apparatus responsible for lowering glucose levels, the beta-cell of the islet of Langerhans of the pancreas, which consequent disastrous outcome for the person involved. Is this caused by too little exposure to common ingestions of childhood, or too much exposure to processed food (or perhaps even cow’s milk), or to environmental pollutants, or abnormalities of vitamins or minerals, or to genetic imbalances, or to some complex of all of these.”

Prologue (xix):

“So it was from north to south, east to west: the same alarms were being rung, and the same questions being asked, by parents, school nurses, and people with diabetes. Were these clusters of type 1 just statistical flukes, or were they real? If real, was in increase happening in just a handful of unlucky towns, or in many towns and cities, and in every state? What dark force could be behind the rise of such a dreaded, lifelong, life-shortening disease? And what, if anything, could be done to reverse it?”

Prologue (xx):

“Type 1, it’s true, used to be rare. Today, however, it’s about twice as common among children as it was in the 1980’s, about five times more common than in the years following World War II, and perhaps ten times more common than 100 years ago, if early statistics are to be believed. Genes have not changed; lifestyles and environmental risk factors have. Part 2 of this book will explore what those risk factors are. Suffice it to say for now, that while Weston might have“` unique local factors pushing its recent outbreak, it is also emblematic in many ways of the new normal across the United States, and indeed around the world: how we live and play and work, and why that ha made us so curiously susceptible to type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 is also rising, of course, but far faster than the rate of obesity. In fact, the rate of new type 2 cases has doubled in the past decade, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shockingly, the CDC now projects that 33 percent of all boys and 39 percent of all girls born in the year of 2000 will develop type 2 in their lifetimes.  That’s more than one in three overall. For blacks and Hispanics, the projections are even worse, tipping to over half-53 percent- of all Hispanic women, meaning that more of them will eventually have diabetes than do not.”

Prologue (xxii):

“Now take one final step back and ask yourself: 88 years after the discovery of insulin, with all the dozens of pills available for type 2, all the high-tech treatment of available for type-1, and the estimated $116 billion per year spent on the medical treatment of diabetes in the United States alone, why the heck do more people get diabetes, and more people die of it, each year?”

Prologue (xxii):

“I am happy to report, after spending over a year interviewing hundreds of physicians, researchers, and patients in the United States and abroad, and even participating in a clinical trial, that there is a better way. Flying under the radar of most observers, a number of revolutionary approaches are making quiet, dramatic gains towards preventing, curing, or significantly improving the treatment of diabetes. As we shall see in Part 3 of this boo, none of them involves lecturing people about the need to eat less and exercise more. None of them requires diabetics to test their blood sugars more often. And none of them places the blame for the disease and its dire consequences in the laps of diabetics. Instead, an astonishing body of evidence has built up in support of an interlocking group of theories, provocative as they are disturbing, as to why both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are rising in lockstep and how we can, for the first time in history, prevent or cure both of them.”

Prologue (xxiii):

“To appreciate just how bizarrely unnatural the current mushrooming of the disease has become, it is useful to go back to a time when doctors could go their entire careers without seeing more than a handful of cases, or any at all. Part 1 of this book will narrate the biography of a disease called diabetes: how it started small and grew into a moster.”

From Big Think:

William Souder’s 2004 autobiography of John James Audobon, Under a Wild Sky, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.  His newest book, On a Farther Shore, chronicles the life and times of Rachel Carson, author of the controversial book Silent Spring — a tome that many consider to be the Bible of the environmental movement.  Souder discuses why Carson is such an inspiration, how Silent Spring might be received if it were to be released today and why it’s important to read biographies of notable figures in science.

Q:  What inspired you to write Rachel Carson’s biography?

William Souder:  My interests are diverse, but I write mainly about science, history, and the environment. A really vexing question is why we have this divisive, intensely partisan disagreement over environmental issues. Why should the left and the right feel differently about the environment we all share? I knew Rachel Carson had been at the forefront of the modern environmental movement—it can be argued she was its founder—and so I thought there might be answers to how we got to where we are on the environment that were embedded in her story. And that turned out to be true. The language and the shape of the continuing environmental debate were formed in the response to Carson’s 1962 book, Silent Spring. Now that book is about the collateral damage caused to the environment by the indiscriminate use of pesticides like DDT. But you could substitute climate change for pesticides and the case would be argued out the same way—now as it was a half century ago. On one side you have the interests of industry and its allies in government and on the political right that resists the regulation of economic activity. On the other you have science and the voices that speak for a reasonable preservation of the natural world.

That seems like a simple confrontation between greed and morality, but it’s more complicated than that. The critics of Silent Spring attacked the book by claiming it was hysterical and one-sided—but more importantly that it was un-American, an attempt to strangle the free enterprise that was our advantage over the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc. To its detractors, Silent Spring wasn’t science. It was ideology. The irony, of course, is that it’s the reverse.

I should add that, as a practical matter, Rachel Carson is a terrific subject—and you cannot hope for more as a writer. She lived a consequential life that peaked just before her death from breast cancer in 1964. And she left an enormous legacy that includes the creation of the EPA and a motivated—if insufficiently effective—environmental movement. She also left behind the kind of vast paper trail of correspondence that is gold to a biographer.

Q:  As you did your research, what most surprised you about her?

William Souder:  I think most readers of my book are going to be shocked by the extent of atmospheric nuclear testing that took place during the Cold War of the 1950s and 1960s—and surprised at how the roots of the environmental movement can be found in the chilly voids of the Cold War. All-in, more than 500 nuclear devices were exploded in the atmosphere between 1945 and 1963, when most of the nuclear powers agreed to halt above-ground testing. The United States accounted for more than 200 of these tests—including ten in June of 1962, or one about every three days. That was the same month Silent Spring—in which Carson argued that pesticides and radiation were parallel threats to the environment—was serialized in the New Yorker magazine.

I knew Carson had argued a connection between pesticides and radiation, but I didn’t realize how important it was until I closely re-read Silent Spring as a commentary not just on pesticides, but on American sensibilities in the Cold War. When you read the short, bleak opening chapter of Silent Spring—it’s one of the great set-pieces in American literature—it’s easy to see that gray, lifeless town, where no birds sing, where farm animals sicken and die, and where a pale residue lies in the gutters and on the rooftops as the result of either pesticides or the fallout from a nuclear apocalypse. And in that lifeless, colorless void was also the shadow of an existence Americans imagined inside the Soviet Union—the cold hardness of totalitarianism that was our darkest fear. It’s no accident that baby boomers became the vanguard of the environmental movement. They came of age with such images and terrors. When they read Silent Spring, they got it.

Q: Do you think the reception of Silent Spring would have been different today? Why or why not?

William Souder:  It’s hard to imagine the same circumstances today because so much has changed that would reshape the response to this kind of work. Rachel Carson was one of the most famous and beloved authors in America when she published Silent Spring, and it was a startling departure from her earlier works, which were lyrical, moving portraits of the sea. But her credibility was enormous, as was her audience. That was a world still dominated by print—by many newspapers and magazines that no longer exist, but which back then devoted substantial space to covering the world of literature. I think books mattered then in a way that, sadly, they no longer do. And it has to be conceded that after years of a concerted attack on the media from the right, a significant portion of Americans don’t believe what they read or hear, regardless of how credible the source is.

The fact is, we have seen the perils of climate change exhaustively reported on for years now. And the country is pretty much evenly divided on whether it’s a problem and so we’ve done next to nothing to address it. So, no, I don’t think Silent Spring would have the same impact today. In fact, I think it’s more influential for being half a century old and still relevant.

Read the entire interview here.

upstream riverLiving Downstream, by Sandra Steingraber

“There seemed to be a disconnect between the evidence that medical researchers had compiled about the environmental origins of bladder cancer and what patients heard about the evidence” (xiii)

“the chance of an adopted person dying of cancer is more closely related to whether or not her adoptive parents had died of cancer and far less related to whether or not her biological parents had met such a fate.” (xiv)

“For every finding of a positive association, another showed no association or yielded a complicated picture.” (12) The power of complications/haziness for chemical corporations. [my emphasis]

“this study showed a fivefold increase in breast cancer risk among women who had experienced high exposures to DDT before puberty but not in woman so exposed after their breasts had already developed.” (13)

“One researcher pointed out in disgust that DDT was abolished on the basis of less evidence than we now had for atrazine.” (15)

“I think it is reasonable to ask–nearly half a century after Silent Spring alerted us to a possible problem–why so much silence still surrounds questions about cancer’s connection to the environment and why so much scientific inquiry into the issue is still considered ‘preliminary'” (15)

“‘Knowing what I do, there would be no future peace for me if I kept silent.’ Having documented a cavalcade of problems attributable to pesticides–from blindness in fish to blood disorders in humans–she could find no magazine or periodical willing to publish her work.” (19)

“she questioned the cozy relations between scientific societies and for-profit enterprises, such as chemical companies.” (20)


From CNN Health:

Catherine Garceau doesn’t go to the pool anymore. The former Olympic swimmer has trained at many fitness centers over the years that smelled strongly of chlorine. While most would assume that means the water is clean, Garceau now knows it’s just the opposite.

After winning bronze in 2000 with the Canadian synchronized swimming team in Sydney, Australia, Garceau was a “mess.” Her digestive system was in turmoil, she had chronic bronchitis and she suffered from frequent migraines.

Garceau retired in 2002 and began looking into holistic medicine. Experts suggested detoxifying her body to rid it of chemicals, including what fellow teammates used to jokingly refer to as “eau de chlorine — the swimmer’s perfume.”

“As part of my journey to determine the factors that affected my health, I delved into the possible effects of chlorine and discovered some shocking facts,” Garceau writes in the appendix of her upcoming book, “Heart of Bronze.”

Outdoor pool season is ending in many parts of the country, and competitive swimmers are heading indoors for their workouts and team meets. But how safe are the waters they’re diving into? Researchers are examining the longterm effects of the chemicals in pool water.

Chlorine inactivates most disease-causing germs within a fraction of a second. That’s why it’s found in our drinking water as well as 95% of pools in the United States, said Dr. Tom Lachocki, the CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation.

As Lachocki points out, access to clean water is what often separates first and third world countries. Without chlorine, swimmers are at risk of contracting many dangerous waterborne illnesses. But the chemical compounds formed in pools have some scientists worried.

“When you open up a tap and pour yourself a glass of water, you don’t normally put someone’s backside in it,” Lachocki said. “But in a pool there are people getting into that water. Every time a person gets in they’re adding contaminants.”

Those contaminants — sweat, hair, urine, makeup, sunscreen, etc. — combine with chlorine to form chloramines, said pool consultant and researcher Alan Lewis. Chloramines are what bathers smell when they enter a pool area; a strong smell indicates too many “disinfectant byproducts,” or DBPs, in the water.

Indoor pools create an additional a danger because of the enclosed atmosphere. Volatile chemicals from the water are transferred, often via vigorous activity like a swim team’s kicks, to the air. Without a proper ventilation system, the chemicals can hang around to be inhaled by coaches, lifeguards or spectators.

Some DBPs, like chloroform, are known as trihalomethanes, and are considered carcinogenic, Lewis said. They’ve been linked specifically to bladder and colorectal cancer.

Dr. Alfred Bernard is a professor of toxicology at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels and one of the world’s leading researchers on aquatic environments. He has published a series of studies documenting the effects of chlorine and its byproducts in swimming pools.

In June, Bernard published a study in the International Journal of Andrology linking chlorine with testicular damage. Swimming in indoor, chlorinated pools during childhood was shown to reduce levels of serum inhibin B and total testosterone, both indicators of sperm count and mobility. Bernard notes in the study summary that the “highly permeable scrotum” allows chlorine to be absorbed into the body.

Bernard has also substantiated previous studies’ claims of a link between swimming in indoor chlorinated pools and the development of asthma and recurrent bronchitis in children. His 2007 study showed airway and lung permeability changes in children who had participated in an infant swimming group.


Slow Death by Rubber Duck argues that our daily lives create a toxic soup inside each of us.

Studies have shown that significant levels of toxic substances can leach out of commonplace items in our homes and workplaces. How do these toxins make their way inside us and what impact do they have on our health? And more importantly, what can we do about them? Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, two of Canada’s leading environmental activists, tackle these questions head on by experimenting upon themselves. Over a four-day period, our intrepid (and perhaps foolhardy) authors ingest and inhale a host of things that surround us all every day, all of which are suspected of being toxic and posing long term health risks to humans. By revealing the pollution load in their bodies before and after the experiment – and the results in most cases are downright frightening – they tell the inside story of seven common substances.

The pollution inside us is insidious. “We cannot see it; we often have trouble measuring it and it is very difficult assigning specific damage to chemicals that are so widely used. But the alarm bells are starting to sound.” Doctors, nurses, mothers and community activists are questioning why these toxic substances can be put into products without our knowledge and with no evidence that they will not harm us and legislators are just beginning to listen.

Ultimately hopeful, Slow Death By Rubber Duck empowers readers with ideas for protecting themselves and their families and changing things for the better. If you are concerned about the level of toxins in your body and want to understand the hidden threats already in your home, you must read this book.

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From EurekAlert:

Americans are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of suspected toxic substances every day, substances that affect the development and function of the brain, immune system, reproductive organs or hormones. Children are the most vulnerable. But no public health law requires product testing of most chemical compounds before they enter the marketplace.

That must change, UC Riverside professor Carl Cranor, argues in a new book, “Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants” (Harvard University Press, 2011).

The current harm-based or risk-of-harm-based legal structure for regulating exposure to toxic substances is problematic, says Cranor, a professor of philosophy and longtime advocate of reforming U.S. regulatory policies. “Because most substances are subject to post-market regulation, the existing legal structure results in involuntary experiments on citizens. The bodies of the citizenry are invaded and trespassed on by commercial substances, arguably a moral wrong.”

Scientists are finding that every industrial chemical and pesticide produced today is capable of entering our bodies, says Cranor, who has served on science advisory panels for the state of California and on Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences committees. For three decades he has studied U.S. regulatory policy and philosophic issues concerning risks, science and the law, as well as the regulation of carcinogens and developmental toxicants, and protection of susceptible populations from new and existing technologies and toxicants. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and University of California Toxic Substances Research and Teaching Program.

Cranor notes that the Centers for Disease Control has identified more than 200 toxicants in the bodies of average Americans, a number that he contends is low only because the CDC has not yet developed protocols to reliably identify other substances.

“The list is only going to grow over time,” Cranor says.

With the exception of pharmaceuticals and pesticides, the U.S. legal system permits most substances to come in without testing for toxicity, without knowing whether they cause cancer, birth defects, developmental effects, or reproductive effects. Only about 2 percent of 62,000 substances in commerce before 1979 have been reviewed at all for their toxicity by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, he says. Of the approximately 50,000 substances introduced since 1979, about 85 percent were allowed to market with no data concerning health effects.

Industrial, often toxic, chemicals are everywhere – bisphenol A used in plastic bottles and that lines cans of food; non-stick cooking surfaces or Gore-Tex material that contains perfluorinated compounds; curtains, baby car seats and TV sets manufactured with brominated flame-retardants; and countless cosmetic ingredients, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and other compounds, all of which enter our bodies and remain briefly or for years.

Chemical contamination is so prevalent, Cranor says, “that it will make future human studies more difficult; there will be no clean controls against which to compare people who are contaminated. We are all contaminated. It’s a question of more or less contamination. So it’s going to be increasingly difficult for the science to detect some of these effects in humans, when they exist.”

The legal process for identifying adverse health effects and removing the responsible substances from the marketplace is extremely slow, he says.

“The only way to reduce toxic contamination is to require testing of products before they come in to commerce,” he says. “If they appear to pose adverse health effects, they should not be permitted, or they should be required to be reformulated so the problems disappear.”


Listen to CHE interview.

Donna Jackson Nakazawa, author of The Auto-Immune Epidemic: “There is a wide gap between what scientists and doctors know and are working on and what the layperson knows.”

An excerpt from The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World out of Balance and the Cutting Edge Science that Promises Hope

Foreword by Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D.

As a faculty neurologist and neuroscientist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore Maryland, I have spent the last decade evaluating and treating patients with autoimmune disorders of the nervous system. I founded and continue to direct the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis (TM) Center, the only center in the world dedicated to developing new therapies for this paralyzing autoimmune disorder. Increasingly, I see that more and more patients are being felled by this devastating disorder. Infants as young as five months old can get TM and some are left permanently paralyzed and dependent upon a ventilator to breathe. But this is supposed to be a rare disorder, reportedly affecting only one in a million people. Prior to the 1950s, there were a grand total of four cases reported in the medical literature. Currently, my colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and I hear about or treat hundreds of new cases every year. In the multiple sclerosis clinic, where I also see patients, the number of cases likewise continues to climb.

Autoimmune diseases have not always been this common. The prevalence of autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes is on the rise. In some cases, autoimmune diseases are three times more common now than they were several decades ago. These changes are not due to increased recognition of these disorders or altered diagnostic criteria. Rather, more people are getting autoimmune disorders than ever before.

Something in our environment is creating this crisis. What you will read about in the following pages is a powerful and touching and scholarly exposé of what those things may be.

The immune system in our bodies is charged with an amazingly complex task: to recognize and ignore all the cells and tissues within our body and—at the same time—to attack any and all “invaders,” foreign cells, viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Our wondrously complex immune system can successfully protect our bodies while recognizing and eliminating billions of distinct infections with which we come in contact. When functioning well, the immune system immediately recognizes a virus or bacteria that has gotten into our body and initiates a spirited and robust attack on the invader, allowing us to recover from a cold after only a few days. But this precisely choreographed dance between the immune system and the tissues it is designed to protect goes badly awry in autoimmune diseases. In such diseases, the immune system mistakes friend for foe and begins to attack the very tissues it was designed to protect. The soldiers guarding the castle turn and attack it.

But what triggers autoimmunity to occur? Throughout human history, our exposure to such myriad infectious agents has triggered an evolutionary arms race. Our immune system has evolved increasingly sophisticated countermeasures and recognition systems to combat the increasing diversity of the infectious agents with which we come in contact. But this increasing sophistication comes with a cost: an increased chance of the system breaking down. We have evolved right to the edge of the immune system’s capacity.

Now, over the last 40 years, something has been pushing that system over the edge. Something is causing the immune system to increasingly make mistakes in which the line becomes blurred, the immune system attacks the body itself, and autoimmune disease occurs. In all likelihood, much of the reason for this often catastrophic mistake of the immune system comes from the countless environmental toxins to which we are currently exposed—toxins that interfere with the way the immune system communicates with the rest of the body. To paraphrase W. B. Yeats, when that communication is lost “things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.”

The numbers are staggering: one in twelve Americans—and one in nine women—will develop an autoimmune disorder. And since it is clear that not every patient with an autoimmune disease is correctly diagnosed, the prevalence is certainly higher than that. The American Heart Association estimates that by comparison, only one in twenty Americans will have coronary heart disease. Similarly, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, one in fourteen American adults will have cancer at some time in their life. This means that an American is more likely to get an autoimmune disease than either cancer or heart disease. Yet we hear much more in the press about heart disease and cancer than we do about autoimmunity. And this silence is mirrored in relative funding by the National Institutes of Health, the major funding agency for biomedical research in the United States. Though the NIH has expanded funding for autoimmunity significantly over the last several years, the 2003 expenditure of $591.2 million is still only a fraction of the money spent for heart disease and cancer. The NIH budget for cancer is over 5 billion dollars, ten times that of autoimmune diseases. The NIH budget for cardiovascular disease is over 2 billion dollars, four times that of autoimmune diseases. We have not yet recognized the urgency of the autoimmune epidemic.

Why is the prevalence of autoimmunity increasing at such alarming rates? There is almost universal agreement among scientists and physicians that the environmental toxins and chemicals to which we are increasingly exposed are interfering with the immune system’s ability to distinguish self from non-self. Most of the risk of autoimmunity comes from environmental exposures rather than from genetic susceptibilities. So, have those environmental exposures changed over time? The answer is clearly yes. One example of this comes from a 2003 study in which blood and urine samples from Americans were tested for 210 substances, including industrial compounds, pollutants, PCBs, insecticides, dioxins, mercury, cadmium and benzene. The volunteers, none of whom had any occupational or residential risks for such exposure, had detectable levels of 91 of these. In other words, these are ordinary people with ordinary lives who have numerous toxins in their body from ordinary exposure. In a 2005 study, researchers found 287 industrial chemicals, including pesticides, phthalates, dioxins, flame-retardants, and the breakdown chemicals of Teflon, in the fetal cord blood of ten newborn infants from around the country—transmitted to the infants by their mothers’ exposures before and during pregnancy.

We are facing both an increasing prevalence of autoimmunity and an increasing exposure to environmental toxins. Is it clear that the increased exposure of environmental toxins is causing the increase in autoimmunity? Several lines of evidence suggest that this jury, too, has issued the verdict — “guilty.” Researchers recently showed that when added to the diets of rats, PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid, a breakdown chemical of Teflon and one of the chemicals found in the blood panel screenings mentioned above), causes significant impairments in the ability of rats to develop an appropriate immune response. Similarly, other researchers showed that mice given organochlorine pesticides were much more susceptible to getting the autoimmune disease lupus than control mice.

Are these data absolutely definitive? It’s not clear that the type of exposure these animals had is the same type that humans have. It’s not clear that lupus in animals is the same thing as lupus in humans. It’s not clear that a rodent’s immune system is the same as a human’s. Much more research needs to be done on this subject — in the form of both epidemiologic (human population studies correlated with exposures) and animal studies. Meanwhile, the difficulty in finding the smoking gun/definitive evidence of causality is increased exponentially by the number of chemicals to which we are exposed. Do we have to give animals the 287 compounds found in the fetal-blood-cord study cited above to examine their combinatorial effect on the immune system? Not only is such research impractical, it is unethical and probably still wouldn’t be viewed by some as definitive.

There are some who might say that this is nothing more than another case of ranting “the sky is falling” when it’s really not. I suspect those might be the same people who believe that the undeniable warming of the planet is simply a geological cycle that has nothing to do with human activity. But taking these positions—that environmental exposures are not adversely affecting our bodies’ health or that we are not causing our planet to get hotter—is dangerous. To miss the opportunity to change is to not only deny the evidence and miss what may be a fleeting opportunity to reverse these trends, but also, ultimately, a selfish position. What about our children and their children? If we have the opportunity to make a healthier future for them but fail to act either because of indifference or denial, what will tomorrow hold for them?

What is just as disturbing is that only 5.4 percent of the NIH budget for autoimmunity is dedicated to environmental factors that underlie autoimmunity. We need to recognize the urgency of the autoimmune epidemic. And we need to take steps to combat it. Future research is unlikely to define a single cause for autoimmunity, but rather varied triggers that include environmental exposures and infectious agents interacting in complex ways with an individual’s immune system. This research will, in all likelihood, clearly establish the link between these exposures and autoimmunity and will begin to define how these exposures cause autoimmunity. We won’t be able to eliminate autoimmunity in the future. Genetic predisposition and infectious triggers will always be with us. But the fight against autoimmunity needs to be fought on several levels: more extensive research, development of better therapies that more effectively treat these diseases, and action to decrease our environmental exposures. The last action will require personal responsibility, political action, and corporate accountability. If we do these things, autoimmunity will be a cluster of rare diseases that we treat with effective medicines. If we don’t, autoimmune diseases will increasingly devastate families, including five-month-old babies, and will increasingly tax our health-care system. If we don’t act now, it will be too late.

The book that follows is astounding. It is a combination of touching personal stories about individuals affected by autoimmune diseases and rigorous research of the medical and scientific literature. It is the kind of book that will scare you. It will make you angry. It will amaze you with the courage of some of the people described in the book. Ms. Nakazawa examines all of the theories about autoimmunity in detail, from heavy metals to toxic chemicals to viruses to vaccines and finally to the hygiene hypothesis. The Autoimmune Epidemic is every bit as compelling as Upton Sinclair’s groundbreaking novel The Jungle and every bit as necessary as An Inconvenient Truth, the startling movie featuring Al Gore and directed by Davis Guggenheim, that shows us that global warming is upon us and may at some point in the near future be irreversible.

You will leave this book with no reservations about the veracity of the conclusions: put simply, there is no doubt that autoimmune diseases are on the rise and our increasing environmental exposure to toxins and chemicals is fueling this rise. The research is sound. The conclusions unassailable.

Ms. Nakazawa introduces a term, “autogen,” used to describe chemical triggers of autoimmune disease, drawing upon the term “carcinogen,” which denotes chemical triggers of cancer. This term, which should become part of our society’s lexicon, may serve as the clarion call for change that emerges from this book. The change needs to take the forms of personal responsibility and societal change. Companies should have to determine the effect of chemicals in developing autoimmunity as well as cancer, and state and federal legislation is needed to compel corporations to make this happen. This book will inspire you to want to do something to protect yourselves and your loved ones; to do what you can to restore a healthy balance between our environment and our bodies. What that something is will vary depending on the individual. At a personal level, no single recommendation fits all individuals and the degree to which an individual alters his/her environment will depend on the levels of exposures and his or her susceptibility to autoimmunity. The Autoimmune Epidemic ends with a logical and empowering solution to protect yourself and your family and, in so doing, to begin the process of cleaning up our environment in order to help reestablish a balanced immune system in our bodies.

Reading The Autoimmune Epidemic is a necessary first step. Reading The Autoimmune Epidemic is a life-altering event. It needs to be.

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From Documentary Website:

The documentary-style film A Sense Of Wonder takes the form of two interviews with Rachel Carson during the last year of her life, as she battles cancer and her critics in the wake of publishing Silent Spring. Using the author’s own writings as the basis for the film, writer and actress Kaiulani Lee provides an intimate glimpse of Carson as she is thrust into the role of controversial public figure.

From Chronicle:

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From Poisoned for Profit Website:

From autism to cancer

With indisputable data, the Shabecoffs reveal that the children of baby boomers—the first to be raised in a truly “toxified” world—have higher rates of birth defects, asthma, cancer, autism and a frightening range of other neurological illnesses from ADHD to mental retardation, and other serious chronic illnesses, than previous generations. .

They reveal that one out of two pregnancies fails to come to term or results in a less than healthy child, that premature births and infertility are on the rise as this generation matures, while the ratio of male babies dwindles.

These children are victims of a crime; the perpetrators are the companies who knowingly manufacture and use poisonous products.

Covering up the evidence

Why does the toxic assault on our children continue? because the evidence is routinely obscured by controversy deliberately generated by the companies that profit, abetted by government collusion, scientists-for-hire, lobbyists, lawyers and cynical public relations.

Poisons in the environment

From fetus to adulthood, in our homes, yards, schools, cars and buses, and playgrounds. the assault is everywhere: air pollution, water pollution, pesticides, mercury and lead, industrial solvents, food additives, artificial growth hormones, arsenic, bisphenol A and phthalates in bottles and teething rings and other plastic products, radioactive pollutants in the water, and even rocket fuel in lettuce.


Poisoned Profits is in the end a book about hope and optimism. We made these poisons, we can take them out of our children’s lives and make profits from safe products. Find here the solutions to reduce your child’s risk and to change the system.

Related Videos:

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From Nature Conservancy:

Rachel Carson, famed biologist, author and visionary, was a founding member of The Nature Conservancy in Maine. Join Cori Kahn of the Conservancy for a visit to Rachel Carson Wildlife refuge in Wells, Maine, to learn more about a conservation icon.

In May of 2008, Newsweek Science writer and author Sharon Begley reviewed the book “Doubt Is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health.”

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That science can be bought is hardly news to anyone who knows about tobacco “scientists.” But how pervasive, effective and stealthy this science-for-hire is—as masterfully documented by David Michaels of George Washington University in his new book, “Doubt Is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health”—will shock anyone who still believes that “science” and “integrity” are soulmates. In studies of how toxic chemicals affect human health, Michaels told me, “It’s quite easy to take a positive result [showing harmful effects] and turn it falsely negative. This epidemiological alchemy is used widely.”

The alchemy is all in how you design your study and massage the data. Want to show that chemical x does not raise the risk of cancer? Then follow the exposed population for only a few years, since the cancers that most chemicals cause take 20 or 30 years to show up. Since workers are healthier than the general population, they start with a lower death rate; only by comparing rates of something the chemical is specifically suspected of causing—a particular lung disease, perhaps—can you detect a problem. Or, combine data on groups who got a lot of the suspect chemical, such as factory workers, with those who got little or none, perhaps their white-collar bosses. The low disease rates in the latter will dilute the high rates in the former, making it seem that x isn’t that toxic. All these ruses have been used, delaying government action on chemicals including benzene, vinyl chloride, asbestos, chromium, beryllium and a long list of others that cause cancer in humans. “Any competent epidemiologist can employ particular tricks of the trade when certain results are desired,” Michaels writes.

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This is all very big business. “Product-defense firms” have sprung up to spin the science and manufacture doubt—proudly. . . .

Make no mistake: raising doubt has run up the body count. By the early 1980s, for instance, studies had shown that children who took aspirin when they had a viral infection such as chickenpox were at greater risk of developing Reye’s syndrome, which damages the brain and liver and is fatal in about one case in three. Desperate to protect their market, aspirin makers claimed the science was flawed, called for more research (a constant refrain), and ran public-service announcements assuring parents, “We do know that no medication has been proven to cause Reye’s.” The campaign delayed by years the requirement that aspirin carry a warning label about children and Reye’s. In the interim, thousands of kids developed Reye’s. Hundreds died.

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Video of David Michaels authors@Google presentation.

From Fora.TV:

Peter Gleick, scientist and freshwater expert, talks about his latest book: Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water. Tap water is safe almost everywhere in the U.S. It takes far more water to make the plastic bottle than it even holds. Most bottled water is simply water from somebody else’s tap! Why on earth does this industry continue to thrive?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Peter H. Gleick is co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California. Dr. Gleick is an internationally recognized water expert and in 2003 was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship for his science and policy work on water issues worldwide. In 2006 he was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences. His research and writing address the critical connections between water and human health, the human right to water, the hydrologic impacts of climate change, sustainable water use, privatization and globalization and international conflicts over water resources.He serves on the boards of numerous journals and organizations and was elected an Academician of the International Water Academy in Oslo, Norway in 1999. Dr. Gleick is the author of many scientific papers and five books, including the biennial water report The World’s Water.

Excerpt: ‘Diabetes Rising’

by Dan Hurley

PrologueTwelve miles west of Boston lies its wealthiest, and seemingly healthiest, suburb. Along its winding, wooded roads, one can find a private tennis club, two golf clubs (including the 115-year-old Weston Golf Club and the nationally known Pine Brook Country Club), 13 soccer fields, and 19 baseball diamonds — and not a single fast-food restaurant. Established in 1713, the town has the highest median household income in Massachusetts, as well as the state’s best public school system, according to Boston magazine. Its recreation department offers nearly 500 classes a year in yoga, karate, gymnastics, swimming, fencing, basketball, Pilates — even tap dancing. David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox live there. Ray Allen of the Celtics lives just over the town line. The scent of overripe apples fills the air in the autumn, when tourists drive past the town’s old stone walls and buy pumpkins from its roadside stands. Storybook beautiful, Weston is the kind of place where parents dream of raising their children.So it took 41-year-old Rikki Conley by surprise when, early on the morning of September 17, 2007, she heard that another child in town might have the same rare, incurable, life-threatening illness that both of her young daughters, Ashley and Kelley, had been battling for years: type 1 diabetes mellitus — formerly known as “childhood onset,” “insulin-dependent,” or ” juvenile” diabetes.

“That’s ridiculous,” Rikki thought to herself while speaking on the telephone to the mother of Kelley’s best friend.

No other children in the elementary school that Kelley and Ashley attended had diabetes; the school nurse there had never before treated the disease, and had to learn everything from scratch. In fact, Rikki had to drive to other towns to attend coffees for parents of diabetic children hosted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. So the idea that Kelley’s best friend’s brother, Gus, could now have it too — especially since the two families were so friendly, having occasionally gotten together for dinner or swimming — struck Rikki as simply impossible.

And the pretty blue-eyed mom with honey-blond hair had as good a grasp of such things as any non-expert; after all, her husband, Kevin, was chairman of the board of the Joslin Diabetes Center, perhaps the most famous diabetes treatment and research institution in the world.

But here was Gus’s mother, Ann Marie Kreft, calling her at 6:30 on a Monday morning.

“He had to go to the bathroom every fifteen minutes this weekend,” Ann Marie said of her seven-year-old son, citing one of the cardinal symptoms. “Last night I saw him holding a water bottle under the faucet and then guzzling it. He’s even started wetting the bed.”

“I’ll come right over and do a blood-sugar test,” Rikki said calmly, now convinced that Ann Marie’s suspicions weren’t so groundless.

Within minutes of getting off the phone with Rikki, Ann Marie saw Gus wander out of his bedroom in his “bug” jammies, the ones with drawings of bugs all over them. By the time they made it down to the kitchen, Rikki was already pulling up in her minivan. Ann Marie’s husband, Tim, was fixing breakfast for Gus, his older sister, and younger brother.

“What’s Mrs. Conley doing here?” Gus asked when Rikki walked in.

“She brought Kelley’s check,” Ann Marie answered, using the Conley family’s term for a blood-sugar meter. “She needs to do a check on you.”

Rikki pricked his finger with a spring-triggered device and squeezed it for a drop of blood. She blotted it onto the end of an inchlong plastic strip protruding from the hand-held device that was the size of a cell phone. After what seemed like three years to Ann Marie, Gus’s number flashed on the device’s screen. Normal would be under 120. Gus’s number was 292.

“Is there somewhere you and I can go?” Rikki asked Ann Marie.

The two women walked into the adjoining dining room, closed the door, and cried in each other’s arms for a couple of minutes while Tim continued fixing breakfast for the kids.

During the two-day span of Gus’s hospitalization at Children’s Hospital, the Boston institution affiliated with Joslin, Rikki remembered something: another child in town had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes back in April. Six-year-old Grayson Welo was just one year younger than Gus. She attended a private school, so neither Rikki’s nor Ann Marie’s children knew her. But she lived right around the corner from Gus, just a two-minute walk away. How weird is that? Rikki thought.

Less than two months later, things got weirder. On November 6, another little girl, Natalia Gormley, was also diagnosed with the supposedly rare disease on her tenth birthday. She lived just a few blocks from Rikki. A school nurse asked Ann Marie to let her know if any other new cases were diagnosed.

They didn’t have long to wait. In the third week of January 2008, Rikki’s daughter Kelley heard from a friend at the stables where she went horseback riding that another kid, 12-year-old Sean Richard, was diagnosed with diabetes on January 16. He lived less than a mile from Ann Marie, in a house that faced her street. That made four cases in nine months.

Having worked years earlier for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as a health educator, Ann Marie decided to email a few friends who still worked there as epidemiologists to see whether they thought the four new cases exceeded the expected number for a town as small as Weston. Maybe, maybe not, they wrote back. It was right on the edge.

Six weeks later, eight-year-old Finn Sullivan became the fifth case of type 1 diabetes diagnosed in Weston in less than a year. He lived on Ann Marie’s block, just six doors down.

Not easily frightened, but now certain that something serious was going on in her neighborhood, Ann Marie emailed her epidemiologist friends again. This time they told her she needed to request an official investigation from the state health department. None of them was quite certain what a normal rate of diabetes diagnoses should be, but whatever was going on in Weston, it wasn’t normal.

They put her in touch with Suzanne K. Condon, associate commissioner and director of Environmental Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Condon remembered Ann Marie from when she worked there and assured her that she would have her staff look into the matter. In fact, she told Ann Marie, Massachusetts had recently become one of the only states in the country funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish an Environmental Health Tracking System. Although the program was initially examining local rates of childhood asthma, it could just as well track type 1 diabetes in children on a town-by-town level.

She promised to begin doing just that. In the meanwhile, according to the best estimates from the CDC, for every 100,000 children in a given area, about 19 new cases should be diagnosed each year. With about 3,200 residents under the age of 18 living in Weston, the CDC statistics would mean that fewer than one child per year should be diagnosed with the disease.

Two months later, on April 28, six-year-old Mya Smith became the sixth case diagnosed in 12 months. Although she lived just over the town line, in neighboring Bryn Mawr, Mya and her family lived within two miles of all the other cases.

Then, on Sunday, June 15, came the jaw-dropper, when 17-month-old Walker Allen was diagnosed. Two nights later, his father, Ray Allen, scored 26 points in game six of the NBA playoffs to give the Celtics their first championship in 22 years.

Not knowing where the Allens lived, Rikki joked sarcastically to a friend, “He probably lives in our neighborhood.” In fact, he did — less than half a mile from Ann Marie. This brought to seven the number of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the past 14 months, all living within the same two-mile radius.

The town’s school nurses had never seen anything like it. Even though some of the kids were too young for school, and some went to a private school or lived over the town line, there were now eight children with type 1 diabetes attending Weston public schools, including those diagnosed in previous years. By comparison, during the 18-year span between 1978 and 1996, the nurses could not recall there ever being more than one or two at any time in the 2,300-student public school system. Some years there had been none. Type 1 diabetes, after all, was supposed to be rare. Really rare.

Excerpted from Diabetes Rising: How a Rare Disease Became a Modern Pandemic, and What to Do About It by Dan Hurley by permission of Kaplan Publishing.