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Legally Poisoned

Legally Poisoned

How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants

Carl F. Cranor

ISBN 9780674072213

Publication date: 03/11/2013

Carl Cranor

Take a random walk through your life and you’ll find it is awash in industrial, often toxic, chemicals. Sip water from a plastic bottle and ingest bisphenol A. Prepare dinner in a non-stick frying pan or wear a layer of Gore-Tex only to be exposed to perfluorinated compounds. Hang curtains, clip your baby into a car seat, watch television—all are manufactured with brominated flame-retardants.

Cosmetic ingredients, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and other compounds enter our bodies and remain briefly or permanently. Far too many suspected toxic hazards are unleashed every day that affect the development and function of our brain, immune system, reproductive organs, or hormones. But no public health law requires product testing of most chemical compounds before they enter the market. If products are deemed dangerous, toxicants must be forcibly reduced or removed—but only after harm has been done.

In this scientifically rigorous legal analysis, argues that just as pharmaceuticals and pesticides cannot be sold without pre-market testing, other chemical products should be subject to the same safety measures. Cranor shows, in terrifying detail, what risks we run, and that it is entirely possible to design a less dangerous commercial world.


  • Both passionate and incisive, this book reveals how much we have failed to control the spread of toxic chemicals in our environment and our bodies. Our laws are ineffective at preventing the use of toxicants in the first place, and unbearably slow at stopping them once damage has been done. Carl Cranor recommends reforms to protect the public health that are thorough, pragmatic--and necessary.

    —Ellen Silbergeld, Johns Hopkins University


  • Carl F. Cranor is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Faculty Member of the Environmental Toxicology Graduate Program at the University of California, Riverside.

Book Details

  • 328 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press