Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Homo Toxicus: A Review

Homo Toxicus is a film that discusses the connections between chemicals found in our environment and health problems, and in some ways is the the modern day Silent Spring. The films starts out with a Canadian women getting her blood tested for contaminants. Even though she feels that she lives a fairly healthy lifestyle, her results find 110 contaminants in her blood, including DDT, PCBs, mercury, and many more. The problem with directly linking these toxins to health problems is that everyone is exposed to so many chemicals that it is hard to tease out which ones are causing what. So although we have some pretty good ideas of which chemicals are problematic, it is hard to prove it.
This film suggests that exposure to some toxins can cause the immune system to become weak, while others cause it to overreact (causing allergies and auto-immune disorders). Toxins like fire retardants (found in a lot of children's sleepwear) can be linked to ADD and hyperactivity. Pesticides have been shown to lower sperm counts and to cause sex changes in fish and amphibians. Hormones found in beef have been linked to cancer. It seems that everywhere we turn, there is yet another substance that we are exposed to that is a likely culprit for cancer or other illnesses.
According to the film, the scariest part is that since the time span between human generation is fairly large, we are just now starting to see the consequences of these chemicals on human health. Amphibian populations, which have seen huge die-offs due to environmental pollutants, have very short generation times and so problems are expressed more quickly in these species. The film suggests that we could be headed for a similar fate as the frogs, but we just haven't had enough time for gene changes to be expressed yet. I hope that's wrong, but I do think all of these toxins in our environment are going to have some consequences, and I can't imagine those consequences are going to be good.
What the film doesn't really touch on is how we can avoid this fate... from my personal research I know that it is important to be careful of the foods you select, the personal care products you use, and the things you surround yourself with. However, I also know that so many of these toxins are present in the water that we drink and bathe in, as well as pollutants in the air. We can't avoid water or air, so until these toxins are regulated and/or banned, we are all going to continue to be exposed to them. Pin It Now!


  1. Scary stuff. I hadn't heard of this film and I *might* check it out, depending on how brave I feel. It sounds similar to the book _Death by Rubber Duck_ and the forthcoming _Nontoxic Avenger_.

  2. Ugh- it frustrates me so much that more people- especially those with power are not more scared of these kinds of thing- I have always been careful what I give my monkeys and yet there is (as you mentioned) only so much we can do-
    I remember seeing this film cover before- very Nirvana- thanks for the reminder to check it out.