Two environmental journalists angrily assert that spineless politicians and lenient regulators defer to rapacious industrialists as their factories drench America in toxic pollutants.
The authors provide an avalanche of anecdotes featuring dreadfully sick children and their devastated parents appealing in vain to guilty industries and getting no help from mealy-mouthed officials. In chapter after chapter, they describe innumerable toxins, their poisonous effects, the researchers who study and denounce them, the regulators who sometimes act but mostly complain that their hands are tied and the industry representatives who defend their products, repeating ad nauseum that the evidence for harm is not conclusive. To those who assume scientists don’t know what causes most birth defects, cancers, allergies, asthma, Alzheimer’s, mental illness, attention-deficit disorder and premature births, this book offers the answer: pollution. Sadly, the Shabecoffs are preaching to the choir, pouring out so many horror stories that shell-shocked readers may grow annoyed with their bias. The authors treat industry representatives with the contempt they deserve, but not every victim or lawyer merits the respectful absence of skepticism accorded them here, and fringe groups given similar hands-off treatment include antifluoridation advocates and people who insist vaccines cause autism. The authors glide right over the unpalatable reality that industrial pollution is now so catastrophically severe that making the bad guys pay will not solve the problem. Taxpayers will end up funding the cleanup, and stricter regulation will mean more expensive goods. Politicians refuse to deliver this news because they want to be reelected, but the Shabecoffs don’t have this excuse. They conclude with sensible instructions for minimizing toxins within the household and good advice for regulatory reform, but neither is likely to improve our environment anytime soon.
The best exposés leave readers yearning to take action. This one will make them want to gnash their teeth and discard their plastic containers.