We as consumers may not realise that using everyday products is a lot like playing a game of Russian roulette. All sorts of consumables are laden with chemicals and independent testing is often rare or non-existent. Chemical companies are also very profitable and powerful machines, but there is hope as individuals out there strive to make these organisations more accountable. The stories of these people along with others who are adopting cleaner and healthier lifestyles are the subject of the documentary film, The Human Experiment. The Iris’ Natalie Salvo interviewed filmmaker, Don Hardy to learn more about this social issue.

Can you briefly describe The Human Experiment for us?

The Human Experiment asks the question: With thousands of untested chemicals in our everyday products, have we all become unwitting guinea pigs in one giant human experiment? Our film goes behind the scenes in the fight to protect all of us from these toxic products before they cause irrevocable harm to our health.

The film follows a band of unlikely activists who are fighting back. Ranging from Howard, a conservative businessman, to Maria, a Latina house cleaner, they are staking their lives on this battle to protect our health. And their opposition is goliath. The powerful and well-funded chemical industry is heavily invested in maintaining the status quo, pulling unseen strings to create an aura of scepticism and confusion.

What encouraged you make this film?

My partner Dana Nachman and I have been working together for more than a decade and she came to me with the idea. Initially I was very sceptical. I didn’t want to believe that many of these chemicals, which are in the products I was using every day, could be sold to consumers without being tested for their safety. As we dug deeper into researching the story it became clear there was a fight raging between activists who believe there is a serious risk to health and chemical companies with billions dollars on the line, so we decided to begin documenting their story.

Why should people care about what chemicals are in household items?

People should care because we all use these products every day. We use them on our children. They’re inside of us. And the increased rates of cancer, asthma, ADHD, genital deformities in baby boys, and birth defects are staggering. Many people are looking for answers and many leading experts are considering chemicals as a likely candidate. The truth is, until these chemicals are tested we will never know for sure. Hopefully our film will help bring this issue to light for more people and we can all join together to force our governments to require companies to pay for independent testing of their products before they can be sold to consumers. It can be done. The European Union is already doing it.

Do you have any tips for people who want to avoid toxic chemicals in their household goods?

Buy less – The number one thing you can do is buy less stuff. Limit your exposure by reducing the amount of products you use every day

Buy smarter – There are good resources available for consumers where they can find products which have been tested for their safety like:

Our website –

Skin Deep database –

Good Guide –

Take off your shoes when you enter your house – we track a lot of nasty stuff into our homes from outside.

Dust often – many chemicals travel…they end up on the floor where our children play and on surfaces we touch.

Open your windows – outdoor air quality is much better than indoor air quality so open up your windows whenever you can.

How can people get involved in this movement?

Share what you know with your friends. We have a very active group on our Facebook and Twitter pages. You can follow what’s happening with the movement there and you can join the conversation.

Sean Penn is the documentary’s narrator. How did he get involved in this project? Do you have any other celebrities or high profile people supporting this cause?

We’re so lucky to be working with Sean again on this project. This is our third collaboration with him and he has taught us a lot about storytelling and production. His voice sets the perfect tone for the film and packs quite a punch. He’s a great guy to have in your corner.

In your opinion, what does the future hold for this movement? Does it look positive?

It’s hard to be positive about this issue when you see how much money chemical companies have and how much our government is stuck in gridlock. However, we believe change needs to come from all of us on the consumer level. If we all band together and decide to stop buying products from companies that don’t care about our health, they will be forced to change their products. Hit them where it hurts…their bank accounts.

Do you have any final comments or things you’d like to add about The Human Experiment for readers of The AU Review?

We’re very proud of our film and feel extremely fortunate to be able to share it with audiences all over the world. This issue affects every man, woman and child on the planet, so hopefully we can all join together to stop the experiment.


Originally published on 01 September 2014 at the following website:

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