“Household Hazards” Blog Reveals Hidden Connections Between Environmental and Consumer Issues

COEH faculty Dr. Paul Blanc, author of more than 200 peer-reviewed biomedical publications, steps out of his usual realm once a month to publish a blog for general audience readers of Psychology Today (PT). Dr. Blanc started collaborating with the editors of PT after they became aware of his 2009 book, “How Everyday Products Make People Sick, Toxins at Home and in the Workplace” (University of California Press). PT became interested in expanding their portfolio and approached Dr. Blanc to help them cover emerging issues in the field of environmental health.

“Household Hazards” has received nearly 50,000 hits since Dr. Blanc began posting essays approximately four years ago. “I don’t presume medical or environmental knowledge. And I try to make the links between workplace issues, environmental issues, and consumer issues (on the part of my readers),” says Dr. Blanc, chief of the multi-campus Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) in the UCSF Department of Medicine. “It’s great to do something that takes you out of your usual, narrow confines. It makes you think about things differently.”

Dr. Blanc has posted roughly 50 posts for PT. Still, he says it is surprising which blogs will take on a life of their own. One of his most popular blogs highlighted the potential risks of a chemical commonly used in the fragrance industry called galaxolide, a synthetic musk used after musk deer were hunted to near extinction for their “natural” perfume. After a professional colleague asked him what he knew about galaxolide, Dr. Blanc began digging into the research. He found that, not only does it persist in the environment, but galaxolide is detectible in humans and displays the potential to interfere with estrogen hormonal function, raising alarm bells for consumers. Read "Arm the Deer" in PT.

Dr. Blanc also has a new book project underway with Yale University Press. “The book focuses on 200 years of a very toxic chemical called carbon disulfide. It looks at what the effects have been predominately on workers, but it also looks at the cultural and political context of the manufacturing,” explains Dr. Blanc.

To read a sampling of Dr. Blanc’s posts for PT, visit: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/household-hazards.

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