Katelyn Kelly

Annotation #2, Chemicals in the Environment


Word Count: 946

Title: Homo Toxicus

Director: Carole Poliquin

Release Year: 2008
What is the central argument or narrative of the film?
The central argument of this film is the amount of hazardous chemicals that enter our systems are growing in lower income areas and are produced by major manufacturers and food producers. The film looks into the sources of the chemicals, what effects those chemicals have on a population as a whole, and different groups that have begun to advocate against the use of those chemicals.
How is the argument or narrative made and sustained? How much scientific information is provided, for example? Does the film have emotional appeal?
The argument is made by the director as she has her blood tested for different chemicals and finds a number of chemicals and toxins are high in her system and follows trends in populations of toxins and chemicals being related to health problems. She visits different populations, one striking population being on a reservation that is exposed to toxins due to its lower class status and visits how leaders in that area have tracked diseases and health issues that can be easily related to the toxins and chemicals in the area. She also visits a lake that has been researched by multiple groups that can track mutations in aquatic life to the toxins in the water. All of these trends are backed by interviews with medical professions that have tracked problems in populations, specifically children and younger generations, and how diseases, such as breast cancer, can be related to different toxins that a population in a given area is exposed to. This, in turn, appeals to emotions as it shows that we as a collective population have been exposed to toxins such as PCPs and pesticides and have gone about life trusting that the products that contain these toxins are safe, only to find much later that they are in fact detrimental to our health. Furthermore, manufacturers continue to use these products, and in turn our population continues to show trends in diseases.
What sustainability problems does the film draw out? Political? Legal? Economic? Technological? Media and Informational? Organizational? Educational? Behavioral? Cultural? Ecological?
This films focuses mostly on technological and political sustainability problems. Because the United States and North America are heavy consumers, corporations and manufacturers design products based on the wants of our communities rather than the needs. Despite growing concerns, manufacturers and corporations still have the authority to use chemicals and toxins, which has sparked some activists to put a foot down against the use of chemicals, such as pesticides in farming and agriculture. Technologically, we have become concerned with more and more problems, such as household fires, that we unknowingly rely on toxins and chemicals to protect us, in this case fire retardants on items such as stuffed animals and children’s toys.
What parts of the film did you find most persuasive and compelling? Why?
This film is compelling in that it draws on evidence of diseases being correlated with harmful chemicals in certain populations. Also, the fact that the director was bold enough to have her blood tested for chemicals in the opening scene shows the audience that this can and probably has affected any average North American. The film further showed certain examples of populations that have been affected and the evidence to back up the claims.
What parts of the film were you not compelled or convinced by? Why?
The only problem I have with this film is small, however, there seems to be little that an average person can do to protect themselves. This film addresses the fact that there are toxins and chemicals in manufacturing and in certain products that can be harmful to humans, and shows some activists and policies that disbanded the use of certain toxins such as pesticides, it gives little insight on how to bring this knowledge to policy makers and manufacturers that have control over the toxins that are used in their products.
What audiences does the film best address? Why?
This film best address any knowledgeable citizen. It warns them of the harmful toxins and chemicals used in products and thus aids them in their decision on which products to buy if they have any alternative choice, what different activists have done, and how certain areas and populations are affected by these chemicals and toxins.
What could have been added to this film to enhance its environmental educational value?
This film had great educational values in that it showed direct correlations to population diseases and problems to chemicals and toxins used in various products and manufacturing. Educational value could have been enhanced slightly by focusing more on trends throughout the century, or trends growing from generation to generation; showing how diseases have been tracked from parent to offspring, rather than just on the current population and its problems.
What kinds of action and points of intervention are suggested by the film? If the film itself does not suggest corrective action, describe actions that you can imagine being effective.
Intervention is suggested mainly through speaking out against manufacturers not to use toxins and chemicals, and perhaps even to the general population to be tested for these chemicals and toxins and do research in our own areas to see how our families and communities might be affected by manufacturing of different goods.
What additional information has this film compelled you to seek out? (Provide at least two supporting references.)
This film raises the awareness of carcinogens and toxins in household objects which could be of great concern for the average family:
1) http://www.preventcancer.com/consumers/household/carcinogens_home.htm
2) http://www.breastcancerfund.org/clear-science/chemicals-linked-to-breast-cancer/household-products/