I'm playing catch-up here, as I had to go back to Virginia last week to get my stuff out of storage. If any of you are thinking about doing a cross-country move, let me advise you not to do it in fourteen different stages as I've done.
It's been a while since I did an autobiographical comic, but it felt appropriate for this one. In the process of furnishing my apartment, I have been sucked into a vortex of competing scientific claims. For example, this Planet Green article, ominously titled "Five Ways Your Bedroom is Killing You," insists that conventional carpeting, paint, mattresses, pillows, and furniture are all pretty much deadly. In other words, your entire bedroom! I've become a master of indoor-pollution vocabulary, from "bioaccumulation" to "PDBEs" (flame retardants) to"off-gassing" (probably my new favorite word).
It's hard to say where to draw the line -- how much is cause for concern, and how much is marketing hype. I actually like the idea of nontoxic mattresses made by local hipsters, but the prices will kill a hipster budget. One starts to sense an eco-class system at work, with people making products they couldn't afford to buy themselves, at least not without an employee discount.
Wool carpeting, VOC-free paint, solid hardwood furniture free of formaldehyde-leaking fiberboard -- it's all expensive stuff. So we have "green" products for the affluent, and for the masses? Let them be off-gassed! Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to return to my bubble.
Nicholas Kristof had a good column the other day about the President's Cancer Panel report, which declared that we need more testing and regulation of chemicals used in industry. Few people seem to be talking about this, as far as I know, but I'd say it's one of the more admirable steps the current administration has taken. The fact that babies are now born with over 300 pollutants in their bodies is a sign of a diseased society, both literally and figuratively speaking.
A technical note about the second panel: PFOAs are a synthetic chemical used in the production of fluoropolymers, which lend special properties like nonstick and waterproof surfaces to a variety of products. So a baby stuffed with PFOAs, which are persistent toxins in the environment, would probably not have nonstick properties, although I'm thinking one coated with a thick layer of fluoropolymers might. I couldn't explain all that in the cartoon, but you probably didn't read that panel as scientific realism anyway. At least, I hope you didn't.
I'm sure the toddler lawyers at Baby Rights Watch will be contacting me any day to condemn the treatment of tots in this strip.