Via TomDispatch, public health historians David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz on how the landscape of everyday life has become awash in toxins:
A hidden epidemic is poisoning America. The culprit behind this silent killer is lead. And vinyl. And formaldehyde. And asbestos. And Bisphenol A. And PCBs.
Without our knowledge or consent, we are testing thousands of suspected toxic chemicals and compounds, as well as new substances whose safety is largely unproven and whose effects on human beings are all but unknown.
While old houses with lead paint and asbestos shingles pose risks, potentially more frightening chemicals are lurking in new construction going on in the latest mini-housing boom across America. Our homes are now increasingly made out of lightweight fibers and reinforced synthetic materials whose effects on human health have never been adequately studied.
Formaldehyde, a colorless chemical used in mortuaries as a preservative, can also be found as a fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant in, for example, plywood, particle board, hardwood paneling, and the “medium density fiberboard” commonly used for the fronts of drawers and cabinets or the tops of furniture.