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Toxic Nation

Mon Nov 14, 2005 Miss Vicky 

Here's an interesting campaign aimed at drawing our attention to the prevalence of toxic substances in our lives. The point is pretty clear - if we accept that our bodies are polluted, maybe we'll pay a little more attention to the pollution around us and our role in spreading toxic substances. And maybe we'll start to take action to reduce our use of harmful chemicals.

Our own debate over the use of pesticides is an excellent example of our culture's willful blindness of the impact of our own habits. The quest for a pristine lawn, a clean, odor-and-germ-free house, attractive and long-lasting produce, smooth wrinkle-free skin and shiny locks.... a lot of small things we do can add up to a lot of chemicals in our air and water - even in our own bodies. And this has consequences. For everyone.

To illustrate the extent of the problem the campaign asked 11 Canadians from different parts of the country to voluntarily have their blood tested. They looked for 88 substances - various heavy metals, PCBs, pesticides and other not-so-pleasant stuff. The results are not so pretty. In fact, they're downright scary. Which is, I suppose, the point. Because positive sentiments like citizenship, environmental stewardship and just plain neighbourliness don't seem to drive many folks to act. Not when convenience is at stake. Fear, on the other hand, can be an excellent motivator.

Fear can also lead to paralysis, however. The danger of this sort of campaign is that it might send Canadians deeper under our Febreze-scented comforters, determined to ignore reality in favour of our snug cocoons. It's so much easier to pretend a problem doesn't exist than to change our habits, isn't it?

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