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Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Powerby Mark Schapiro
Synopses & Reviews
New evidence seems to arrive daily — from stories about tainted pet food to toxic toys — of the dangerous consequences that lax environmental policies are having on the consumer products that we, and our children, use daily thanks to lobbying efforts by the U.S. chemical industry.
Meanwhile, the European Union is forcing these global corporate giants to chart a new path that, by requiring safe products, is revamping how businesses can create safe products and make money.
In Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power investigative journalist Mark Schapiro takes the reader inside the corridors of global power where tectonic battles are occurring that will impact the health of ourselves and the planet.
Schapiro's exposÃ© shows how laws adopted by the European Union — where stricter consumer-safety standards have forced multinationals into manufacturing safer products. And, short of such strong government action the United States will lose its claim of economic and environmental supremacy.
Increasingly, products developed and sold in the United States are equated with serious health hazards, and many of those products are soon to be banned from Europe and other parts of the world. Schapiro's revelations in this thought-provoking work will change the way American consumers think about everyday products — from plastic softeners that can contribute to sexual malformations to lipstick additives that are potential toxins to the brain, liver, kidneys, and immune system. And, it will stir them into forcing our government to take the lead of others, including the European Union, China, and countries in Central and South America.
Exposed is a revealing and fascinating look at global markets, everyday products, and the toxic chemicals that bind them. It will shock, inform and warn American businesses and government leaders about the risks of being left behind in the international marketplace. Schapiro's book also shines a light on Europe's evolving search for higher standards that places Brussels, not Washington, at the center of global market innovation.
"Americans' confidence in their government-sanctioned environmental and consumer protections receives another blow in investigative reporter Schapiro's exposé, which explores such discomforting information as the 2005 U.S. Centers for Disease Control tests that found 148 toxic chemicals 'in the bodies of 'Americans of all ages.'' The U.S.'s unique tendency to take no action against businesses and their products until a disaster occurs keeps them tied to 1970s standards-'exposed to substances from which increasing numbers of people around the world are being protected'-while 'the principle of preventing harm before it happens, even in the face of imperfect scientific certainty,' guides an increasing number of countries; by 'creating legal and financial incentives,' governments in Europe and Japan have kept citizens relatively safe from what contributes to the deaths 'of at least 5 million people a year,' according to the World Health Organization. Schapiro (co-author, with David Weir, of Circle of Poison: Pesticides and People in a Hungry World) discovers toxins in personal care products, toys, electronics and foods which are, in some cases, manufactured solely for U.S. consumption, and traces them to the people and events responsible. Though a look at growing support for change in the U.S. provides some hope, a guide to action would have been an appropriate addition to Schapiro's prescient muckraking." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
European Union countries have surged ahead of the U.S. in setting "greener" consumer product safety standards, and China may be next, asserts the editorial director of the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco. Focusing on products including phthalate-containing plastics that may feminize boys and e- waste, Shapiro (coauthor, Circle of Poison: Pesticides and People in a Hungry World) explains the global politics and economics behind different market standards. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In contrast to America's corporate-hostage government, the European Union is charting a new path that, by requiring safe products, is revamping how industry can work and succeed. Schapiro takes the reader inside a global power shift that has gone almost wholly unreported in the United States. He shines a light on Europe's evolving search for higher safety and environmental standards that has allowed Brussels, and not Washington, to emerge as the leader in global market innovation in the twenty-first century. Exposed shows that, short of strong government intervention, America will lose whatever claim it has to commercial supremacy. Increasingly, its products are equated with serious health hazards, the same hazards that the European Parliament is legislating out of existence in its powerful trading block. From South America to China, the world's governments and industrial leaders are looking to Europe's leadership as the products of the twenty-first century are invented, designed, produced, and marketed.
Schapiro's revelations will spark a sea change in the way American consumers think about everyday products—from plastic softeners that can contribute to sexual malformations to lipstick additives that are potential toxins to the brain, liver, kidneys, and immune system. And it will change our view of the future of environmentalism and the roles government can play in protecting us from hidden dangers.
About the Author
Mark Schapiro is editorial director of the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco. He has written extensively on foreign affairs and his work has appeared in Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine and other publications, and has reported stories for Frontline, NOW with Bill Moyers, and public radio's Marketplace. Schapiro lives in San Francisco, California.
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