The Poisoner (Homo veneficus)

  • Julian Cribb


The impact of 250 billion tonnes of human chemical emissions on the environment, our health and the Earth system. Planetary poisoning. 144,000 chemicals (most untested for safety) and +2000 new ones every year. Failure of regulation. Risks and health concerns: pandemics of brain damage, cancers and reproductive disorders. Role of chemicals in extinction. A Right Not to be Poisoned. Creative and collaborative ways to clean up the Earth.


Poisoned planet Chemical emissions Chemical pollution Health concerns Neurotoxicity Regulatory failure Chemical extinction Consumers Green chemistry Human fights ‘Clean up the Earth’ 


  1. Allen JG et al (2015) Associations of cognitive function scores with carbon dioxide, ventilation, and volatile organic compound exposures in office workers: a controlled exposure study of Green and Conventional Office environments. Environ Health Perspect. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1510037.
  2. Auman H et al (1997) PCBS, DDE, DDT, and TCDD—EQ in two species of albatross on Sand Island, Midway Atoll, North Pacific Ocean. Environ Toxicol Chem 16(3):498–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Australian Antarctic Division (2012) Pollution and waste, August 2012,
  4. Berne S, Marchand M, D’Ozouville L (1980) Pollution of sea water and marine sediments in coastal areas. Ambio 9(6):287–293, Retrieved from
  5. Bro-Rasmussen F (1996) Contamination by persistent chemicals in food chain and human health. Sci Total Environ 188(Suppl):S45–S60.
  6. California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Emerging Chemicals of Concern (2007)
  7. Carpenter DO, Arcaro K, Spink DC (2002a) Understanding the human health effects of chemical mixtures. Environ Health Perspect 100:259–269Google Scholar
  8. Cribb JHJ (2014) Poisoned planet. Allen & Unwin, Australia.
  9. Dent B (2002) The hydrogeological context of cemetery operations and planning in Australia. University of Technology Sydney, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  10. Dietz R et al (2012) Three decades (1983–2010) of contaminant trends in East Greenland polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Environ Int 59(2012):485–493Google Scholar
  11. Environmental Working Group (2009) CDC analyzes toxics in humans.
  12. Environmental Working Group (2010) Cancer-causing chemical found in 89 percent of cities sampled.
  13. Foster P (2011) The top 10 Chinese food scandals. UK Daily Telegraph, 27 April 2011,
  14. Fuoco R et al (2009) Persistent organic pollutants in the antarctic environment. Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, Cambridge, Scholar
  15. Global Energy Statistical Yearbook (2014)
  16. Goodson WH et al (2015) Assessing the carcinogenic potential of low-dose exposures to chemical mixtures in the environment: the challenge ahead. Carcinogenesis 36(Suppl 1):S254-S296. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgv039,
  17. Grandjean P, Landrigan PJ (2014) Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity. Lancet. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70278-3
  18. Hoekstra AY, Mekonnen MM (2011) The water footprint of humanity. PNAS.Google Scholar
  19. Hou L, Zhang X, Wang D, Baccarelli A (2011) Effects of environmental chemicals on epigenetic changes. Int J Epidemiol 41(1):79–105.
  20. IPCC (2014b) Fifth Synthesis ReportGoogle Scholar
  21. Kirmayer LJ et al (2004) Explaining medically unexplained symptoms. Can J Psychiatry 49(10):663–672Google Scholar
  22. Kobylewski S, Jacobson MF (2010) Food dyes: a rainbow of risks. Center for Science in the Public Interest.
  23. Konkel L (2012) Antarctic wilds carry as much chemical flame retardants as urban rivers. Scientific American, February 12, 2014.
  24. Kuroda K, Fukushi T (2008) Groundwater contamination in urban areas, groundwater management in Asian cities. Springer, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  25. Loganathan BG, Kwan-Sing Lam P (2014) Global contamination trends of persistent organic chemicals. CRC Press 2011 or Global Contamination Initiative, CRC CARE, 2014,
  26. Malm O (1998) Gold mining as a source of mercury exposure in the Brazilian Amazon. Environ Res 77(2):73–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Manikkam M et al (2013) Plastics derived endocrine disruptors (BPA, DEHP and DBP) induce epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of obesity, reproductive disease and sperm epimutations. PLoS One 8(1):e55387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Margulis L, Sagan D (1986) Microcosmos: four billion years of evolution from our microbial ancestors. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  29. Mössner S, Ballschmiter K (1997) Marine mammals as global pollution indicators for organochlorines. Chemosphere 34(5–7):1285–1296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Motherboard (2016) Bee extinction is threatening the world’s food supply, UN warns. Motherboard, 27 February 2016.
  31. Muir DCG et al (2002) Toxaphene and other persistent organochlorine pesticides in three species of albatrosses from the North and South Pacific Ocean. Environ Toxicol Chem 21(2):413–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Muncke J, Peterson Myers J, Scheringer M, Porta M (2014) Food packaging and migration of food contact materials: will epidemiologists rise to the neotoxic challenge? J Epidemiol Community Health. doi: 10.1136/jech-2013-202593
  33. Northeast Fisheries Science Centre (2008) Persistent man-made chemical pollutants found in deep-sea octopods and squids, June 2008,
  34. Onstot J, Ayling R, Stanley J (2010) Characterization of HRGC/MS unidentified peaks from the analysis of human adipose tissue. Forbes Magazine, 21 January 2010,
  35. Porta M, Lee DH (2012) Review of the science linking chemical exposures to the human risk of obesity and diabetes. ChemTrust UK, March 2012,
  36. Provieri F, Pirrone N (2005) Mercury pollution in the Arctic and Antarctic regions: dynamics of mercury pollution on regional and global scales. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  37. Projection Based on OECD (2015) Material resources, productivity and the environment.
  38. Ramsey L (2015) These 10 cities have the worst air pollution in the world, and it is up to 15 times dirtier than what is considered healthy. Business Insider, 21 September 2015.
  39. Rios L, Moore C, Jones PR (2007) Persistent organic pollutants carried by synthetic polymers in the ocean environment. Mar Pollut Bull 54(8):1230–1237.
  40. Rockström J, Steffen W, Noone K, Persson Å, Chapin FS III, Lambin E, Lenton TM, Scheffer M, Folke C, Schellnhuber H, Nykvist B, De Wit CA, Hughes T, van der Leeuw S, Rodhe H, Sörlin S, Snyder PK, Costanza R, Svedin U, Falkenmark M, Karlberg L, Corell RW, Fabry VJ, Hansen J, Walker B, Liverman D, Richardson K, Crutzen P, Foley J (2009) Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecol Soc 14(2):32, [online]
  41. Rohde RA, Muller RA (2015) Air pollution in China: mapping of concentrations and sources. Berkeley Earth, May 2015,
  42. Ross PS et al (2004) Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) in British Columbia, Canada, and Washington State, USA, reveal a combination of local and global polychlorinated biphenyl, dioxin, and furan signals. Environ Toxicol Chem 23(1):157–165Google Scholar
  43. Ruiz R (2010) Industrial chemicals lurking in your bloodstream. Forbes Magazine, 21 January 2010,
  44. ScienceDaily (2014) BMJ—British Medical Journal: “Food packaging chemicals may be harmful to human health over long term.” ScienceDaily, 19 February 2014.
  45. Semeena VS, Lammel G (2005) The significance of the grasshopper effect on the atmospheric distribution of persistent organic substances. Geophys Res Lett 32(7). doi:10.1029/2004GL022229Google Scholar
  46. Sharp R (2009) CDC scientists find rocket fuel chemical in infant formula, EWG, 2 April 2009.
  47. Shortell D (2015) Marcy Borders, survivor known as ‘Dust Lady’ in iconic 9/11 photo, dies at 42, CNN, August 27, 2015.
  48. Stehle S, Schulz R (2015) Agricultural insecticides threaten surface waters at the global scale. Proc Acad Sci.
  49. Stockholm Convention (2013b) Results of the global survey on concentrations in human milk of persistent organic pollutants by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization, Stockholm Convention Report, Geneva, May 2013,
  50. The World Counts (2015) Hazardous waste statistics. The World Counts, Copenhagen.
  51. Thornton JW et al (2002) Biomonitoring of industrial pollutants. Public Health Reports, JulyGoogle Scholar
  52. Times of India (2010) Groundwater in 33% of India undrinkable. Times of India, 12 March 2010,
  53. UDHR (2016) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. United Nations website,
  54. US Energy Information Administration (2013)Google Scholar
  55. UNEP (2015) Extrapolated from world minerals production statistics.
  56. UNEP Centre for Clouds, Chemistry and Climate (2002) The Asian brown cloud. Also The Economist, 10 August 2013 ‘The east is grey’.
  57. United Nations Environment Program (2013) Global chemicals outlook: towards sound management of chemicals, February 2013,
  58. University of Toronto (2013) Guidelines on the use of perfumes and scented products. University of Toronto Environmental Health and Safety.
  59. US EPA (2013) EPA Releases Report Containing Latest Estimates of Pesticide Use in the United States, February 17, 2011.
  60. US CDC (2014) Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, August 2014.
  61. US Department of Health and Human Services (2014) National Toxicology Program, December 2014.
  62. USEPA (2014) Protecting the stratospheric ozone layer, October 2014,
  63. van Wyck B (2013) The groundwater of 90% of Chinese cities is polluted. Danwei, 18 February 2013,
  64. WHO (2012) State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals.
  65. WHO (2016) Preventing disease through healthy environments: a global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks. World Health Organisation, 15 March 2016.
  66. Wilkinson BH, McElroy BJ (2006) The impact of humans on continental erosion and sedimentation. Geological Society of America Bulletin, July 2006,
  67. World Coal Association (2013) Coal statistics.
  68. World Trade Center Health Program (2015) 6th Meeting of the Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee, 4 June 2015.
  69. Wu M et al (2010) Case report: lung disease in World Trade Center responders exposed to dust and smoke: carbon nanotubes found in the lungs of World Trade Center patients and dust samples. Environ Health Perspect 118(4):499–504.
  70. Yeo B, Langley-Turnbaugh S (2010) Trace element deposition on Mt Everest. Soil Survey Horizons 51(4):95–101Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian Cribb
    • 1
  1. 1.CanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations