Followup book helps readers get clean and avoid everyday toxic chemicals

The authors of Slow Death By Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health needed to answer an obvious followup question in their second book: How do we escape the toxic chemistry of everyday life?

Authors Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith endured months of self-experimentation while writing Slow Death By Rubber Duck to learn how toxic chemicals present in toiletries household items and food entered their bodies. In Toxin Toxout they tackle how they and their readers can get clean.

Lourie and Smith did their interview with Fast Forward Weekly the same day the CBC broke a story about pesticides found on organic produce — news that mirrors an article from several years ago that they cite in Toxin Toxout . It’s an important coincidence because both men have become ardent promoters of organic food following their detox experiments.

“It’s not news that there are pesticides on organic food. There’s pesticides on your clothing. There’s pesticides in your car. There’s pesticides in the atmosphere and in the Bow River. This is why we write these books because of all of these chemicals [that] are everywhere in the environment” says Lourie.

Smith refers to one experiment the two environmental journalists commissioned for the book in which a lab measured the levels of pesticides in a group of nine children’s bodies on exclusive diets of first regular and then organic produce.

“Once they started eating organic food the levels of pesticides in the body were reduced by about two-thirds. And then once they started eating non-organic food again those pesticide levels almost immediately doubled. So [there is] just a very clear relationship between organic foods and measurable benefits” says Smith.

“It solidified my commitment to eat as much organic food as possible because of the direct measurable reduction in cancer-causing organo-phosphate pesticides that eating organics achieves.”

Residual pesticides on produce isn’t the only way to load your body with toxic chemicals. Both Toxin Toxout and its predecessor describe the hazardous chemicals leaching from house paint Teflon cookware cosmetics protein fat bottled water and even that new car smell.

“ This is admittedly a heavy topic and it’s very easy for people to conclude that we’re all screwed” says Smith.

However they say they tried to keep the books “upbeat” and hopeful. Over the course of writing the new book they subjected themselves and willing volunteers to experiments seeking out the least hazardous products and the most effective detox regimes. The conclusion: the best detoxification method turns out to be all about eating well exercising and enjoying a good steam bath.

“The best place to start with toxins is trying to avoid them in the first place and that’s where careful consumerism comes in. The second part is to try to do some things to accelerate the flushing of these chemicals once they’re inside of you” Smith says.

“ We were surprised at the extent of existing scientific evidence that points to exercise and sweating as having a detox benefit.”

They also tried “detox kits” — or at least interviewed many others who endorse them. Some worked a little some not at all and most don’t have enough scientific testing behind them yet to be sure what the effect is. The authors’ advice is to approach coffee enemas and the like with a grain of salt.

“ In the same way that you need to be cautious and somewhat skeptical about what you read on maybe a shampoo bottle you need to have the same attitude when you’re picking out a detox kit…. If you spend 11 and a half months of your year filling yourself with crappy food and cosmetics and pesticides and then you do a two-week broccoli blender diet you’re not going to detox” says Lourie.

TOXIN TOXOUT: GETTING HARMFUL CHEMICALS OUT OF OUR BODIES AND OUR WORLD by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie Knopf Canada (304 pp.).

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