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Review: Slow Death by Rubber Duck

Slow Death By Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things

 Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie
I usually don’t panic about everyday things. There was last summer when Glenn Beck was talking about rice fleeing shelves and I bought into that and lost an entire week’s sleep compelled with the need to hoard rice. Then along comes the book Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie.

With a deep breath, I opened the pages, aware that toxic chemicals surround me, but just how harmful some of the things are that I use on a daily basis. As I read this book, I realized there are simply some things I really would rather not know. Still, I kept reading.

My children have participated in plenty of Science Fairs, three times they have advanced to District. We’ve covered “How to Clean and Oil Spill”, “What Makes the Longest Lasting Bubbles?”, “How Keen is a Shark’s Smell?”, “Best Laundry Detergent” and more. Slow Death by Rubber Duck is an adult science fair project using items we use every day!

The authors are from Canada and environmental activists. I had to laugh because there have been a few things we have reviewed where I have told my children, “c’mon someone’s got to take one for the team”. Smith and Lourie do this…they expose themself deliberately to the chemicals surrounding us. They monitor their exposure levels using urine and blood analysis as they spend an entire week inhaling, ingesting and absorbing products. Some of the chemicals had off the chart results in as few as two days!
My favorite experiment was the BPA tests. I was aghast at how many things BPAs are in and their effects on the human body. After just two days of eating only canned food microwaved in plastic containers and drinking from one of his son’s old baby bottles, Smith saw a major rise in the levels of BPA in his body.


“My levels increased over eight times,” he says. “You can only imagine what the levels in an infant would look like if after two or three years of their sole source of nutrition being a BPA baby bottle. Their levels would just be through the roof.”


With more than 82,000 chemicals in use within the United States and another 700 new ones being generated each year it’s interesting reading. Of all those chemicals, only 650 are monitored and only five have been banned–asbestos, I was surprised, was not one of them.
The authors do an excellent job of pointing out the effects chemicals have on the human body siting cancer, asthma, autism, reproductive failure, ADHD, and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s as the price we pay.

Slow Death by Rubber Duck is centered around seven chemicals that are our most common exposures:

1.) radium – x-ray exposure
2.) mercury – certain seafood
3.) PFCs – Teflon. An ingredient used  in coating some cooking  pans, some cosmetics, some clothing
4.) phthalates and triclosan – the aroma added to certain shampoos and conditioners, antibacterials soaps, and personal care products. Some of the brand names will leave you with your jaw wide open.
5.)PCBs – flame retardants used to treat many children’s pajamas
6.) BPAs (plastics, perfluorochemicals)–think plastics and baby bottles.
7.) DDT – pesticides

The authors do an amazing job of telling a story while providing facts and information that will give you a greater understanding of the chemical dangers that are all around us. So many of the products used are easy to eliminate and many alternatives for replacement.

Another great part about this book is the Quick Reference Guide which outlines what we can do to remove hazardous products from our use.

This book is an interesting read that kept my attention. I recommend it. It will open your eyes and motivate you to clean out cabinets!


About Julee: Julee Morrison is an experienced author with 35 years of expertise in parenting and recipes. She is the author of four cookbooks: The Instant Pot College Cookbook, The How-To Cookbook for Teens, The Complete Cookbook for Teens, and The Complete College Cookbook. Julee is passionate about baking, crystals, reading, and family. Her writing has appeared in The LA Times (Bon Jovi Obsession Goes Global), Disney's Family Fun Magazine (August 2010, July 2009, September 2008), and My Family Gave Up Television (page 92, Disney Family Fun August 2010). Her great ideas have been featured in Disney's Family Fun (Page 80, September 2008) and the Write for Charity book From the Heart (May 2010). Julee's work has also been published in Weight Watchers Magazine, All You Magazine (Jan. 2011, February 2011, June 2013), Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine (Oct. 2011), Red River Family Magazine (Jan. 2011),, and more. Notably, her article "My Toddler Stood on Elvis' Grave and Scaled Over Boulders to Get to a Dinosaur" made AP News, and "The Sly Way I Cured My Child's Lying Habit" was featured on PopSugar. When she's not writing, Julee enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new baking recipes.
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