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Book review

Toxin Toxout


Discover how to reduce the toxins in your environment, and help eliminate them from your body.

Toxin Toxout: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies and Our World
By Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith
Knopf Canada, 289 pages, $29.95
ISBN: 978-0-307-40220-2

Over the last decade, it’s been well established that Canadians are a toxic lot.

In separate research studies conducted by Health Canada and Environmental Defence, harmful chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in people’s blood and urine samples. Toxic substances such as lead and methylmercury have even been found in the umbilical cords of newborns.

Many of those toxins have been linked with serious health effects, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, infertility, and other conditions. So now what are we supposed to do?

Authors Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith answer that question in their latest book, Toxin Toxout: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies and Our World. It’s a follow-up to their best-selling Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health (Knopf Canada, 2009).

While Slow Death by Rubber Duck made it clear that we’re polluted and the consequences are daunting, Toxin Toxout helps Canadians do something about it. By interviewing a vast range of experts and doing experiments on themselves and other willing volunteers, Toronto environmentalists Lourie and Smith arrive at simple strategies people can use to reduce the levels of pollutants in their bodies.

Their research is fascinating. In one experiment, they compare levels of phthalates and parabens in two people who made the switch from conventional, chemical-laden personal care products to those deemed to be cleaner, greener, and safer. Over a period of eight days, the two used 50 products and gave several urine samples. The levels of phthalates and parabens spiked dramatically after their use of conventional items, declined dramatically when they used nothing at all, and continued to fall when they used nontoxic products. The results match other scientific data on chemical levels after the topical application of cosmetics.

The writers do similar experiments with food (conventional versus organic), various detox therapies (chelation and sweating in a sauna are effective “toxout” measures), and even chemicals that off-gas in a new car (levels of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, increased significantly in two men who spent eight hours in an enclosed new vehicle).

Although there’s a lot of science in the book, it’s an engaging, easy, and enjoyable read. There’s a lot of practical information, but it’s delivered in an accessible tone, often a humorous one.

Managing what we eat, drink, breathe, and absorb is a big step toward guarding against the hazardous chemicals that surround us. Toxin Toxout makes the battle feel easier to take on. 

Win this Book!

Two lucky winners will receive a signed copy of Toxin Toxout: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of our Bodies and Our World.

Contest runs from May 1 to 30, 2014. For details and to enter, visit

Toxin Toxout



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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD