Indeed many sections left me wishing that more immediately useful information would have been on offer - instead we were served throwaway sound bites, unsupported vague claims, and scaremongering. In one particularly badly thought out scene, Sarah warned new mothers of the dangers of breast feeding as "chemicals will be passed to the baby".
It might have been better to stress the benefits that breast feeding has for both baby and mother (reduced risk of breast cancer for mother and huge immune system and emotional development benefits for baby) - and to help adequately educate people on what's likely to be genuinely toxic in their lives.
On the whole, I felt the terms "toxic" and "chemical" were thrown around far too freely without real explanation as to the programme makers' interpretation on what they wanted those terms to represent.
The language used in the programme appeared to have been designed to make viewers believe the following statements:
- Every man-made chemical is bad for you.
- Everything natural is good for you.
Just because something is a man-made chemical, doesn't automatically make it unsafe, or toxic.
If anything, sometimes it is entirely beneficial to produce something in a more controlled environment so that one ends up with a less volatile substance. The intended action and effects can be predicted to some extent, which can't always be said about natural materials. The trick is to get the balance, intended effects, formulations, dosages and usage instructions correct.
Just because something is natural, doesn't automatically make it safe. (Some of the most potent poisons in the world come from plants and animals: digitalis, deadly nightshade, belladonna, deathcap, black widow spiders, scorpions...). Natural ingredients are still made of chemicals. Yet the programme was fudging the issue by using "chemical" like a swearword.
Furthermore, the programme attempted to make the case that sodium laureth sulphate is bad for you. Sodium laureth sulphate is a coconut-derived surfactant used widely as a foaming agent in shampoos, bubble baths, and even toothpaste.
Now if you remember, one of the test subjects was a girl who actually ate quite a bit of toothpaste on a daily basis. Just because something is bad for you when used inappropriately (cinnamon is lovely sprinkled on my best apple pie recipe, but if I asked you to down a bottle of it in one, you would probably get ill). The programme also failed to present examples of toothpastes without sodium laureth sulphate. They exist and there are some lovely ones out there. Instead the poor girl was given quite an extreme option to try — a traditional Japanese seaweed product that made her gag.