The Book
Poisoned for Profit - How Toxins Are Making Our Children Chronically Ill

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Chelsea Green Publishing
May 2010
ISBN 978-1603582568

POISONED FOR PROFIT is an updated and expanded version of POISONED PROFITS, first published in hard cover in 2008.  It includes significant political, economic and scientific developments since then, an Afterword that discusses what those developments mean, and new resources for parents.

The environmental assault

We and our children are exposed to toxins invisibly, stealthily, without our knowledge.

The U.S. now makes or imports 27 trillion pounds of chemicals per year (not even counting pesticides, drugs, food additives or polymers).

Causing harm

Poisoned for Profit, based on more than five years of investigative research and reporting, reveals the cumulative scientific evidence connecting the massive increase in environmental poisons to the epidemic of disability, disease, and dysfunction among our nation´s children.

The manufacturers and their defense team

The authors conclude that the poisoning of the environment is as grave a threat to the future as any problem confronting our nation.

Yet even as individual parents and pediatricians struggle to fight illness, one child at a time, the public remains in the dark about the enormity of this crisis. Why? because corporations control the system, molding laws to their liking. The book shines a light on the motives and means of corporate-paid lawyers, “product defense” companies, fake grassroots groups, research centers and scientists, including one paid $600 an hour to watch a movie.

The Victims

Poisoned for Profit, cast as a crime story, relates what happens to the victims—the families and communities polluted by different toxic substances—by chemicals, heavy metals, industrial manufacturing, and nuclear waste. Here are the stories of Dickson, Tennessee, where an extraordinary number of babies were born with cleft lips and palates after landfill chemicals seeped into the water; and Port Neches, Texas, where so many graduates of a high school near a petrochemical plant contracted cancer that it was nicknamed “Leukemia High”; and a small brother and sister in Indiana who, exposed to pesticides, slipped into severe retardation.

Genes + the environment

In layman´s language, the book explains how genes and the environment act upon each other, how mental and behavioral illnesses can be environmentally-triggered, affecting both the body and mind. And it explains the ways in which the fetus and young child are much more vulnerable than adults.

Our nation picks up the tab for these illnesses—Poisoned for Profit gives the dollar figures for reduced productivity on one hand, the staggering cost of care for sick children on the other.


Instead of fighting against disability and disease with cures, a never–ending struggle, the authors affirm that we now have the knowledge to prevent harm and they describe the solutions. Poisoned for Profit demonstrates how people are fighting back, whether through grassroots parents´ groups, the rise of “ecotheology” or the new “green chemistry” that replaces bad elements with harmless ones.

The Shabecoffs also include a guide for parents on how to reduce toxic risks to their children in their everyday lives.

Poisoned for Profit was researched and written with support from the Ford, V. Kann Rasmussen, Heinz Family and Rockefeller foundations, under the sponsorship of Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility. Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Institute for Children´s Environmental Health sponsored the book's public policy uses. Some of the nation´s leading environmental health scientists served as advisors to the book.