“Unacceptable Levels” is a no-nonsense documentary that will challenge everything you think you know about health, safety, and environmental protection.
Chemicals are everywhere. Not just in pesticides, or cigarettes, or household cleaners. They’re in our food, our clothing, even our water, and no one–not even the scientists who made them or the companies who sell them–know exactly what they’re doing to our bodies or the environment.
That’s the startling message of “Unacceptable Levels” an award-winning documentary by Ed Brown that’s opening people’s eyes to just how flippant we’ve been about bringing these potential poisons into our homes and lives.
The first thing I noticed when sitting down to screen “Unacceptable Levels” was what a regular guy Brown was. He’s not an eccentric, aggressive director like Michael Moore, or a distracting public figure like Al Gore. He’s just a guy. A dad who works in the service industry. His commentary and questions aren’t perfectly scripted. He’s like us: just trying to break down a massive issue to find out what it really means for his family. Brown sets an approachable tone that lingers through the entire movie and draws you into his quest.
‘Unacceptable Levels’ starts with Brown thinking about the chemicals used at his restaurant job. On dishes, counters, and floors. Things he–and the customers–touch every day. It then shifts to his young wife, who shares her mysterious problem with miscarriage while trying to start a family. He embarks on a personal investigation to find out if all of these chemicals really are as “safe” as everyone seems to think.
Throughout the movie, we see Brown interviewing some of the best and brightest minds in chemistry, environmental science, and health care. He also speaks with grassroots activists working to address problems of pollution and illness in their own communities. What they share will make your jaw drop.
After WWII, left with a glut of companies who only knew how to make one thing–chemical weapons–and an American populace flush with money, corporations and the government decided it was time to capitalize. They turned chemicals designed to do one thing–kill humans and animals–into the materials that make up the products that now sit in everyone of our homes and offices.
When problem arose about what to do with the toxic by-products of making these chemical-laden products, laws meant to protect us were manipulated to allow for dumping them in our water or on the agricultural fields that grow our food. Brown’s interviewees discuss how, after decades of this careless behavior, we’re now seeing astronomical increases in chronic disease, infertility, and hormone issues. Increases that the medical community can’t explain, except to say that it can’t possibly be genetic.
Although at points during “Unacceptable Levels” you might feel incredibly discouraged or even nauseous, but Brown retains his open, honest demeanor–and it’s calming. He doesn’t freak out and tell us we’re all doomed. He has hope, and he ends the film with a call to action that we can all respond to: Do something. Care about something. Investigate for yourself. Make a small change. Share what you’ve learned with a friend. Sign a petition or send a letter to a brand that you want to see change.
“Unacceptable Levels” opens the door to conversations about the chemical burden our bodies carry so that we can make informed decisions now and in the future.
Click here for information about screenings, or how you can bring “Unacceptable Levels” to a local theater near you.
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Image: Unacceptable Levels