Reflections and Recommendations
And, oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray us
In deepest consequence.
— Macbeth 1,3
Exposures to toxic chemicals without the informed consent of those exposed emerges as a dominant theme throughout this book. Sometimes evidence of exposures or toxicity is disregarded, concealed, or not communicated to those who bear the risks. In other cases, the risks are unknown and unstudied, but exposures continue. Many factors conspire to maintain a system that fails to incorporate basic principles of public health practice or to acknowledge fundamental human rights: a fragmented and reactive approach to problem solving, the perception of science as completely objective, an uninformed public, an economic system that encourages rapid development and marketing of new chemical products, and the curious notion that corporations have the right to expose people to untested chemicals.
The complexities of modern, industrial society encourage specialization, fragmented thinking, and a reductionist worldview. We divide complex issues into pieces to manage them more efficiently, neglecting to reassemble them for more integrated analysis. This tendency is pervasive in science and is reflected in civil and political institutions. Physicians