Toxic Experiment With Everyday Products ~ Slow Death By Rubber Duck

Have you heard the buzz about the book called Slow Death By Rubber Duck?  The two authors are leading environmentalists in Canada, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, and by using their own bodies conduct a 4 day experiment to document how using everyday products known to contain BPA, Phthalates, Teflon, (to name only a few!) and what the effects in their system will be. The experiment could be compared to the Supersize Me documentary, but these results are more shocking because most people know that eating nothing but McDonald’s food is really bad for you.  The results from Slow Death By Rubber Duck might shock you, but because so many of these products are used in the food and products we are in direct contact with, it’s better to learn how to eliminate these chemicals that enter your children and family’s bodies. For example, did you know that newspaper ink contains high enough levels of BPA that can absorb through your skin?  I was surprised by this and many more sources the authors uncover.

Rick and Bruce tested the levels of these 7 chemicals from their experiment: Phthalates, Teflon, Flame Retardants, Mercury, Triclosan (antibacterial), Pesticides, and BPA.  First they attempt to detox their bodies fully from these chemicals, test/document the levels in their blood and urine, then expose themselves to these chemicals through everyday products and food that are known to have high content.  Then they re-test their blood and urine and publish the results. The most shocking part of the experiment for me was not only the high levels in specific chemicals, but also the realization that trying to eliminate levels of chemicals like BPA and Phthalates is impossible. Rick would know better than anyone else (he’s the Executive Director of Environmental Defense for Canada) what to avoid and he consulted with scientists that have been studying these chemicals for years. He could only get the levels of these chemicals low but not at zero because he realized for example if he’s trying to avoid all phthalates though personal care products, the chemical might wind up in milk he drinks because a farmer might use soft tubing containing this chemical to remove milk from a cow. Tracking this and proving it back to the dairy supplier would be impossible. Thinking that your coffee is okay to drink but then realizing the coffee shop selling it has parts of their coffee machine made with polycarbonate plastic – now the coffee contains BPA.  Really, until our Government steps in and bans and controls these chemicals we are faced with a long road with our health chemically polluted. 


I have not read a book cover-to-cover in years and before my week vacation, I knew I needed to take advantage of down time and purchase Slow Death By Rubber Duck. I think this book is a must read for parents and I keep going back and re-reading particular chapters. After trying to learn about these chemicals for the last year, I felt passion again to find more ways to try and spread the word of how wide-spread the use of toxic chemicals has become.  I’ve always thought it’s unfair that parents these days need to be the equivalent of environmental engineers in order to raise our children and understand how to protect them. How could it happen that all of these man-made synthetic chemicals were allowed to be created and unleashed without any testing? I’m thankful for the scientists that are determined to expose the heath risks through years of studies so that our governments are forced to listen.  Do you know that Europe, Japan, Fiji, Korea, and Mexico have already banned or implemented restrictions on phthalates in children’s toys and products?  Canada has no regulations whatsoever and although the US regulated new standards with phthalates, toys containing this chemical are still permissible in the US.  Canada has been one of the leaders in the world to ban the use of BPA in baby bottles, but after reading Slow Death By Rubber Duck, you’ll want to see more action.

I’ve written numerous articles about Phthalates and BPA and try to not be preachy or freak parents out but my urgency to remove these from my children’s environment became more heightened after reading this book.  I’m sorry, but simply removing Polycarbonate plastic (hard, clear plastic marked with recycling code #7) water bottles from our children and replacing them with stainless steel isn’t enough.  The quote regarding BPA from the book Slow Death By Rubber Duck is sadly true “We’re marinating in BPA every day”.  Dr. Ana Soto, a prominent researcher examining BPA has recently produced research and the focus is the link between breast cancer and BPA.  This information was new to me ~ I’ve always thought that boys/males were being effected the most with phthalates and BPA with prostate cancer and reproductive problems and this really scared me with my twin daughters now on my radar.  How I understand the link between BPA and breast cancer is because BPA does the most damage to heath when a baby is developing and young ~ all of that early exposure to the estrogen mimicking hormones in BPA causes early breast development and increases chances of developing breast cancer later in life.  This acts the same with boys/males with how BPA affects males, but the result is prostate cancer and reproductive abnormalities. 

As you can tell from the length of this post, the review from this book or subject matter can’t be a quick post.  I’ll be writing 7 articles one for each of the chemicals discussed in the book.  With BPA and Phthalates being my comfort zone, I’ll finish this review with information that surprised me the most about  BPA. Also, the link between BPA exposure and prostate and breast cancer disturbed me and I wanted to hammer home this point. Get #7 polycarbonate plastic away from your home and food. Have a wine party with all your mom friends and start discussing ways to minimize your family’s exposure. Write letters to your Government asking for more changes and bans on these chemicals.  Every time I sit down with other green minded moms, I learn something new.  Even the book admits the power that moms have, especially when they are moved to action to protect their children.

The following information is directly from Slow Death By Rubber Duck and it’s a summary of where BPA lurks in our daily lives:

BPA is one of the most commonly produced chemicals in the world and about 70% of BPA is used to manufacture polycarbonate plastic. This type of plastic is hard, clear, and usually marked with the recycling code number 7.  This plastic is very hard to recycle so is not only toxic to human health but exists forever on the planet.  Polycarbonate plastic is used to make Cd’s and DVDs, water bottles, drinking glasses, kitchen appliances, utensils, eyeglass lenses, water jugs in office water coolers, hockey helmet visors, baby bottles, medical supplies, faces of a laptop and blackberry. Also extensively used in cars, trucks for headlights and the windshields or toy cars. Epoxy resins are used as adhesives in sporting equipment, airplanes, and cars. They’re also commonly found in dental fillings, protective coatings around wire and piping and the primary avenue of exposure for everyone: the interior lining of virtually every tin can found in every home and grocery store.  

New exposure that was even a surprise to Rick is carbon-less paper (white, glossy, coated paper that most cash register receipts are printed on) has high levels of BPA. High enough levels that absorption of BPA through the skin on the fingers. Also printer’s ink used in newspapers has BPA.  Because BPA levels in recycled paper is high – food in contact with this paper could also leech BPA (pizza often comes in a recycled cardboard box).  Crazy hey?  I was surprised at these new places I can be in contact with BPA.

The last chapter of the book is called Detox and lists a summary of information and tips to help with the action items a parent can take when addressing BPA.  Taken from the Chapter Detox, here is what Slow Death By Rubber Duck recommends:

  • A cute little mantra to memorize that comes in handy when purchasing plastic “4, 5, 1, and 2; all the rest are bad for you”.  Cute and weeds out PVC plastic which is known as poison plastic (recycling code 3) and polycarbonate plastics (coded number 7). 
  • Avoid heating food in plastic.  
  • Eat frozen or fresh food stored in glass rather than tin cans (lined with BPA in the lining).
  • Use cloth bags for shopping.
  • Write to your city’s municipality to ban disposable water bottles. 
  • Check Zrecs website for BPA-free products and EWG’s guide to infant formula or baby bottles.

 Here are more articles related to this topic:

What You Don’t Know About Plastic Toys Made From PVC

Phthalates & BPA Chemicals ~ The Disappearing Male Documentary

BPA In Dental Fillings and Sealants

BPA Found Highest In Canned Food and Infant Formula!

Z Report Listing BPA Free Companies

BPA Plastics And My Love For Klean Kanteen

What is BPA?


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2 Responses to Toxic Experiment With Everyday Products ~ Slow Death By Rubber Duck

  1. Tracy Green July 22, 2009 at 8:23 am #

    Suzanne! Great write up and definitely a great book. You can whack me over the head with it when you see me next since I was supposed to lend you my copy. It has been in my bag for 4 weeks and for some reason never made it into your hands.

    Thanks for covering this topic and recapping the book.

  2. Dr. Kathleen T. Ruddy July 22, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    Thank you so much for you excellent post. Please take a look at my article about the relationship between BPA, breast and prostate cancer.

    Kind regards,

    Dr. Kathleen T. Ruddy
    Founder and President

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