5 Documentaries To Make You Rethink The Chemicals in Your Home

If you’ve been curious about the effects chemicals can have on our healthy and lifespan, or are looking to convince someone else of their dangers, a documentary is a great way to achieve that. These documentaries are some of the most fascinating (and horrifying) examples of how chemicals are so prevalent in our daily lives, and the risks we face due to prolonged use. Try streaming one of these five films to learn someone new during your next movie night.

Stink!

In this 2015 documentary, Jon Whelan presents overwhelming evidence showing dangerous chemicals are added to clothing and other products by design, to reduce cost and increase profits. After discovering a foul smell coming from a pair of children’s pajamas, Jon took it upon himself to dig deeper to learn more about the chemicals that are added to our clothing and other household items.

The documentary focuses mainly on endocrine disrupting chemicals, which causes danger with continued low level exposure over long periods of time. These chemicals are in a variety of personal personal care products, food packaging materials and clothing.

Throughout the film, Jon attempts to get more information about these chemicals, but manufacturers continue to dodge questions and refuse to provide the answers that consumers need. Although many of the discussed chemicals are banned in Europe, the US refuses to remove many questionable ingredients until they are proven dangerous.

While it may take years for manufacturers to own up to their use of chemicals, and for more studies to be done about their negative health effects, the lack of transparency is certainly Stink!-y.

The Human Experiment

Narrated and Executively Produced by Sean Penn, this documentary says we're poisoning ourselves with everyday products. The Human Experiment follows several women whose lives have been changed by chemical exposure. These women, after four decades of increased chemical use in the United States, experience health issues such as cancer, miscarriage, autism and birth defects. By focusing in these personal stories of people who have been negatively affected by chemicals, it puts a face to the horrors of the chemical industry.

One of the more shocking stats discussed in this film is that researchers have found more than 300 chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies, rendering them pre-polluted even before birth. More research will need to be done, but many chemicals that we deal with on a day-to-day basis may become next year’s formaldehyde or DDT. The documentary does an excellent job of going behind the scenes in investing how these toxic products may be causing harm – and fighting against the powers that be to stop it.

The Sensitives

If you’ve seen the show Better Call Saul, you may be familiar with the medical condition that renders people extremely sensitive to chemicals and electronics. This documentary follows five people with that same issue, called MCS or electromagnetic sensitivity. The subjects are mostly unable to live around cell phones, electric appliances, artificial scents and cleaning agents, and other items that are prevalent in modern life.

One man lives in the suburbs with his wife, but has a sensitivity to artificial light so lives primarily in the dark. Another mother and her two twin adult sons live in an isolated home, and rely on the elderly grandmother for grocery deliveries. The adult sons are barely able to live their shared plastic-wrapped room. And finally, an activist who has previously suffered from electromagnetic sensitivity, and now owns a center for others struggling with sensitivity.

The filmmaker makes no attempt to prove or discredit their conditions, but instead spends time focusing on these five people and the difficulties they face. Though footage of the activist from years past when she was surrounded by chemicals, compared to her thriving health now, is an intriguing argument for the reality of electromagnetic sensitivity. Overall, the film is a painful portrait of the stresses modern life can have on some people.

Addicted to Plastic: The Rise & Demise of a Modern Miracle

It’s almost impossible to go a day without interacting with plastic somehow. It’s become one of the most commonplace items in any home or office, due to its low cost, versatility, and durability. Unfortunately, however, it is not biodegradable and often difficult to recycle, which is the focus of the documentary Addicted to Plastic. The filmmaker explores the global environmental consequences of the irresponsible use of plastic materials in the film.

The movie explores how plastic became an so unavoidable, and how we can (and why we must) reduce our usage. The filming took place over three years, and visits 12 countries on five continents to trace the path of plastic. It includes interviews with experts about plastic recycling, toxicity, and biodegradability. And visits locations in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where plastic debris accumulates.

The film ends on a hopeful note, however. It provides a few plastic alternatives, including materials made of out plants, that can help to wean us off this harmful product. Until then, we’ll continue to fill landfills and oceans with plastic bottles and toxic waste.

The Devil We Know

Take a look around your kitchen. You probably have evidence of C8, a compound found in nonstick pans, microwave popcorn bags and waterproofed Patagonia sportswear. And even if you don’t, there’s a 99.7% chance it’s in your bloodstream already. This is the main topic discussed in The Devil We Know, which focuses on a town in West Virginia that houses the creators of this chemical, the DuPont corporation.

The citizens of Parkersburg, WV, have spent over 30 years fighting against the DuPont corporation for their unsafe dealings with this chemical. Those who worked directly with the chemicals at the plant were the first to suffer ill health effects, including cancer and birth defects. Eventually, polluted water flowed into nearby towns, causing further issues.

The community of Parkersburg, as well as the documentary, argues that DuPon has known about the the dangers of dumping their toxic chemical into the water for many years, but has done nothing about it. And unfortunately, the problem goes much further, as use of the nonstick pans and other items that contain the compound can also contaminate the bloodstream.

Even as DuPont has acknowledged the dangers of C8, and it’s prevalence worldwide, they and other corporations remain able to slightly change C8’s chemical formula and continue producing it.

While these documentaries are closer to horror films than fairy tales, they shed important light on some of biggest dangers facing modern citizens: chemicals and contamination.