The Experiment

“Why don’t we experiment on ourselves?”

What began as a joke, an offhand thought, quickly became a two year megaproject. The more we chewed it over, the more doable it seemed. What better way to demonstrate, in concrete terms, the impact of daily life on the pollution load our bodies all carry than to deliberately ingest a whole bunch of these suspect substances and see whether they did, in fact, linger in our systems?

We set only one ironclad rule: Our efforts had to mimic real life. This may seem obvious, but it was actually a very useful guiding principle as we wrestled with the details of the experimentation. We couldn’t chug a bottle of mercury. We couldn’t douse ourselves in Teflon. Whatever activities we undertook had to be run-of-the-mill things that people do every day…

Over the course of the book, Rick experimented with phthalates (in toys and personal care products); bisphenol A (found in plastics); brominated flame retardants (found in upholstered products and electronics) and triclosan (the active ingredient in many anti-bacterial products). Bruce experimented with non-stick chemicals, mercury (one of the oldest toxins known) and pesticides. Increases and decreases in the levels of these chemicals in their bodies were monitored by taking blood and urine samples before and after performing a variety of everyday activities.

The results will surprise and horrify you.

You’ll never look at a rubber duck the same way again!