The Real Truth About Health
Published on Mar 6, 2019
Lecture by McKay Jenkins author of Food Fight: GMOs and the Future of the American Diet
• Staying Healthy in a Toxic World, The Harzardous Substances that American’s Eat, Breathe and Touch Everyday.
Do you know what chemicals are in your shampoo? How about your cosmetics? Do you know what’s in the plastic water bottles you drink from, or the weed killer in your garage, or your children’s pajamas? If you’re like most of us, the answer is probably no. But you also probably figured that most of these products were safe, and that someone—the manufacturers, the government—was looking out for you. The truth might surprise you.
After experiencing a health scare of his own, journalist McKay Jenkins set out to discover the truth about toxic chemicals, our alarming levels of exposure, and our government’s utter failure to regulate them effectively. Mckay Jenkins reveals how dangerous, and how common, toxins are in the most ordinary things, and in the most familiar of places.
McKay Jenkins has been writing about people and the natural world for 25 years. His most recent book, Poison Spring (Bloomsbury, 2014), co-written with E.G. Vallianatos, has been called a jaw-dropping expose of the catastrophic collusion between the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] and the chemical industry.(Booklist, starred review) He is also the author of What’s Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World (Random House, 2011), which chronicles his investigation into the myriad synthetic chemicals we encounter in our daily lives, and the growing body of evidence about the harm these chemicals do to our bodies and the environment. Jenkins holds degrees from Amherst, Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, and Princeton, where he received a PhD in English. A former staff writer for the Atlanta Constitution, he has also written for Outside, Orion, The New Republic, and many other publications. Jenkins is currently the Cornelius Tilghman Professor of English, Journalism and Environmental Humanities at the University of Delaware, where he has won the Excellence in Teaching Award.
“In the past few years, scientists have become increasingly worried about the growing presence of synthetic chemicals in our bodies, and in our environment — and the connection these chemicals may have to cancer, hormonal imbalances, and many other diseases. These are not just the toxins leaking out of industrial dumps — they are the chemicals leaking into us from the products we use every day: from cosmetics, cookware, and the fabric in our upholstery; from pharmaceuticals in our drinking water and the pesticides we spray on our lawns. I learned this the hard way. A few years ago, I discovered a surprise in my abdomen: a tumor the size of a baseball. An hour before I was to enter the operating room, researchers asked if I had ever been exposed to toxic chemicals. In my life, I asked?
This seemed like an odd question. What kind of chemicals do you mean? The researchers began reading from a list, which turned out to be very long. Some things I had heard of, many others I had not. Formaldehyde? Weed killers? Glues? Dry cleaning fluids? Detergents? Lacquers? Flame retardants? Plastic meat wrap? Plastic meat wrap? Clearly, what I knew about my chemical exposure history was pretty vague. I decided to search for clues. My new book, What’s Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World, takes a clear-eyed look at the ways everyday things may be making us sick, and shows how we can protect ourselves by making wiser, healthier choices.
It examines the way products are made and regulated (or, typically, not regulated); the way synthetic chemicals enter our bodies, and the latest research about what this chemical “body burden” may be doing to our health. It looks at our shopping habits, our drinking water, and our lawn care, and it ponders the ways advertising and marketing have blinded us to some pretty obvious problems.”