Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

EMF Studies

25 October 2011

Film Review: "Homo Toxicus"

We are swimming in a sea of toxic substances

"HOMO TOXICUS" (Carole Poliquin and Isaac Isitan, 2008, Canada, 87 mn) : This excellent documentary on the health effects of environmental pollution takes us from school children in Montreal to the Inuit populations of northern Canada to Native Americans living near an industrial complex in Ontario. The film begins with the blood analysis of the producer, which reveals the presence of 110 toxic substances. To learn how these substances are affecting our health, she travels first to northern Canada.

Some of the highest concentrations of mercury and PCBs in the world are found among the Inuit population. This affects the immune system which in turns creates high infection rates and learning disabilities. In Montreal at one school, three in 10 children suffer from allergies and attention deficit is increasing. A woman treated for breast cancer asks her butcher where his beef comes from and discovers that it is from the Western part of Canada, where hormones are used to raise cattle. Native Americans living near an industrial complex in Ontario suffer from the consequences of pollution: children have more allergies; very few male babies are being born (the birth rate is two girls for every one boy); there are many miscarriages. Fish in the St. Lawrence River are becoming feminized. The issue of pesticides is discussed. Canada and the United States still allow the use of Syngenta’s atrazine in agriculture, banned in Europe since 2006. This pesticide may be responsible for decreased sperm counts and motility.

The film also touches on regulation. Experts working for Santé Canada, which sets environmental protection standards, are interviewed. The precautionary principle is not applied, but rather “risk management”. Economic competition is as important as health and safety considerations. Thus, the burden lays on consumer vigilance, however this takes being well-informed. The more likely action is to advocate for local and state/provincial regulatory legislation or better, apply the principle of precaution. The film ends with a “toxic buffet” approved by Santé Canada, an appealing array of foods labeled with all their toxic ingredients.

by Meris Michaels

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