I recently had the great opportunity to receive a copy of the documentary film of Unacceptable Levels. It chronicles a family’s endeavor to better understand the chemicals exposures that they face on a daily basis. This exploration led them into the world of pesticides, plastics, cosmetic regulation and among other things, toxic sludge. There are a number of things that make this movie remarkable and effective. First, the narrator, Ed Brown is immediately likeable and not quite the polarizing character often found in the world of documentaries. You feel like you are also on this exploration. His commentary doesn’t strike you as overly biased, which will make it appeal to a wide audience. The movie oscillates between commentary from Brown’s family and a parade of the who’s who in the world of green science.
It dawned on me after seeing the movie just how long I’ve been working to promote consciousness of these issues. At this point, I’ve spoken at high levels to both consumer product corporations and to all of the big box retailers alerting them to the inherent dangers of chemicals in products. Over the past eight years, we’ve also supplied many national magazines, newspapers, and major online sites with detailed information on endocrine disruption and chemicals like BPA leaching from consumer products. We can say without hesitation we have been directly and indirectly a major part of this movement towards safer alternatives.Unacceptable Levels concludes with a simple concept, consumers do have a choice. Over the last six years, a lot of these choices have fueled the creation of safe alternatives and forced a lot of major companies to rethink their chemical policies. There are certainly a large number of companies that we may deem as “posers”, who are simply trying to cash in on the green movement and are really not offering safer solutions. The frustration for us is that most companies don’t understand what it means to produce safe products. And alternatives that have the same risk as the chemicals of concern are still making their way into market place.
If you’re waiting for the government to step in to determine if something is safe, keep in mind how long things like cigarettes, lead, asbestos, mercury and DDT took to receive warnings or bans. Brown and the scientists in this movie present the science accurately. Pinpointing a single chemical would only solve part of the problem. It is often the combinations of chemicals within products that elevate its overall risk. The chemical lobby loves this fact actually, because it allows them to claim that it’s not their chemical at work that is causing the problem. And out of over 100k chemicals only a very few have been put through proper toxicology review. One of the resulting problems is that we often only find out about chemicals being problematic when it’s too late. Having a mother who is an Epidemiologist and a father who was a Biophysicist, I’ve grown up seeing the data firsthand from toxic chemical spills and just how sensitive our systems are. Since working in the world of endocrine disruptors, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with scientific leaders like Theo Colborn, Ph.D. (author of Our Stolen Future) and Fred Vom Saal, Ph. D.
When you look at the very sensitive orchestra at work in a fetus’s development, it doesn’t take much to alter the course of maturation. While I worked for a lab that was funded by National Institutes of Health, we found that very minute amounts of a chemical could have a profound effect, contrary to the thinking of toxicologists over the last two decades. You may be thinking what kind of effects can something at parts per billion or million have? Ask your doctor at what dosage is Viagra or The Pill.
Until we know more, it doesn’t make sense to bathe ourselves in a chemical soup. There are very real, simple, and actionable steps that can be taken every day. And just because you wish to go towards safer alternatives, doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly going to be paying exorbitant prices.
Brown flew out to Austin recently. We had an opportunity to share more about our story and mission. We are excited to announce that Ed and his family are now officially “thinkers”. He forwarded a picture from a recent camping expedition.
We HIGHLY recommend you see this thought-provoking movie. Brown is right: there are no acceptable levels of potentially harmful chemical exposure.
For more information about the movie and for screenings near you, please go to: