By Lindsay Dahl
I had the opportunity to interview Dana Nachmann, one of the directors of an upcoming documentary called The Human Experiment. Below are Dana’s candid answers on the upcoming film about toxic chemicals in our homes and products.
Can you tell us the premise of the film?
The Human Experiment is about one of the biggest
environmental disasters that most people have never even heard or thought much
about. It’s about the thousands of
chemicals that we all come into contact with everyday in our makeup, our
electronics, our furniture… they’re in everything. Most of these chemicals have
never been tested for their safety. Meanwhile, so many conditions are on the
rise in both adults and children.
This film explores the connection between chemicals and disease and
reveals the massive forces that try to make sure people don’t know about this
What inspired you to make the Human Experiment?
I am a journalist and a mom I was assigned to do piece
for NBC in 2009 about how to limit toxic chemicals in the home. It was through researching that story
that I found out that most consumer products do not get tested for their safety
before being put on the market. I
thought this couldn’t really be true, but after looking into it I found out
this was the shocking reality. I
went through a complete freak out at first, which is what happens to most moms
when they learn about this issue.
I was worried about all of the ways my kids had been exposed to
potentially dangerous chemicals because I was completely ignorant about this
issue. I was pregnant with my
third child and I realized that things in our family had to change and things
in our country had to change.
That’s why I wanted to make this movie to turn that fear into empowerment,
not just for me but for all the moms and dads who would one day be able to
watch the film and help turn this issue around once and for all.
Why do you think these issues are so important?
One of the doctors we interviewed for this film had the
most amazing quote that I think really hits the nail on the head. She said,
“Information that’s only held by some people only empowers some people. So it
may be that a producer only knows what’s in their product and they want to
vouch that it’s safe but if the public and the government and if scientists
can’t see what’s in the product and don’t have any information about its
safety, then that doesn’t give me much assurance.” That’s why I think we as a society have to demand that we
know what we’re buying, what we’re exposing our family to. I think we need to ensure that these
products are safe and I hope that this film helps to make this happen. We hope
that all the amazing organizations like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families can use the film to
show people why this issue needs to change now.
What was the most fun part of making the film?
I have always enjoyed rallying around a cause that I
believe in. But as I got older, I
got more involved in my career and being a mom I found it difficult to find the
time to really rally behind so many of the causes that I think need
attention. So, working on this
film enabled me to combine my work, my activism and my parenting. I really feel that this film is
important for my family as well as for the country. The Human Experiment
is a battle cry that I’ve wanted to sound for quite a long time. It’s so much
fun to be able to fight for such an important cause.
What was the most surprising thing you learned while making this film?
I think that my answer to this will make me seem naive
but I’m going to answer honestly anyway.
I am so surprised that industry is battling so hard against many of the
hard evidence that points to the fact that these chemicals are hurting us and
our children. I assumed when I
started this that since the issue and the science was really just emerging that
once it came to light companies would do the right thing and start to move in
the direction of safer alternatives.
But I’ve found just the opposite, that companies (for the most part, not
all!) are fighting tooth and nail to keep the status quo with regard to what’s
in their chemicals and they are trying to make sure the public doesn’t find out
what’s really in their products and what diseases and conditions they can
What do we want people to get out of the movie?
We hope The Human
Experiment inspires people to join your national movement around the safety
of chemicals. We’re finishing up
the movie now so before it comes out we would love people to share the trailer and
create excitement for the film’s release next year. We want to get the word out that once and for all we are
going to elevate this issue to the national level. We need immediate action from all of us so we can protect
our children, and their children, and their children. It’s evident that if we don’t act on this, companies will
continue working in the easiest way possible and that means that they won’t
test their chemicals for safety and they won’t switch out dangerous chemicals
with safer once. We want our
health and safety to be of concern to companies, not just their bottom
You can watch the trailer here: