cover of book

Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants
by Carl F. Cranor
Harvard University Press, 2013
Cloth: 978-0-674-04970-3 | eISBN: 978-0-674-05892-7 | Paper: 978-0-674-07221-3
Library of Congress Classification RA566.3.C73 2010
Dewey Decimal Classification 363.7363


Take a random walk through your life and you’ll find it is awash in industrial, often toxic, chemicals. Sip water from a plastic bottle and ingest bisphenol A. Prepare dinner in a non-stick frying pan or wear a layer of Gore-Tex only to be exposed to perfluorinated compounds. Hang curtains, clip your baby into a car seat, watch television—all are manufactured with brominated flame-retardants.

Cosmetic ingredients, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and other compounds enter our bodies and remain briefly or permanently. Far too many suspected toxic hazards are unleashed every day that affect the development and function of our brain, immune system, reproductive organs, or hormones. But no public health law requires product testing of most chemical compounds before they enter the market. If products are deemed dangerous, toxicants must be forcibly reduced or removed—but only after harm has been done.

In this scientifically rigorous legal analysis, Carl Cranor argues that just as pharmaceuticals and pesticides cannot be sold without pre-market testing, other chemical products should be subject to the same safety measures. Cranor shows, in terrifying detail, what risks we run, and that it is entirely possible to design a less dangerous commercial world.

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