Living Downstream  Walking Upstream

About the Book

Beautifully spare, almost lapidary prose . . . . The poet’s focus on the particular serves Steingraber exceedingly well, enabling her to build a devastating case for the probable environmental causes of cancer.

~ Chicago Tribune






Published by Da Capo Press 
For single copies: 1-800-343-4499.
For bulk discounts: 1-800-810-4145, ext. 5000.


When Sandra Steingraber was diagnosed with bladder cancer at the age of twenty, she asked, Why me? As a biology major, she felt compelled to search for an answer to this question in the medical libraries. This led to an early interest in the connection between her environment and her health. Years later, with the help of a post-doctoral fellowship from Harvard University, Sandra began a four-year investigation into the links between synthetic chemicals and human cancer. She went back to her hometown of Pekin, Illinois to conduct a search for her ecological roots. This work became her acclaimed book, Living Downstream.

Published in 1997, Living Downstream was the first book to bring together toxics-release data—finally made available under right-to-know-laws—and newly released cancer registry data. Sandra is also the first to trace with such compelling precision the entire web of connections between our bodies and the ecological world in which we eat, drink, breathe, and work.

Living Downstreamhas won praise from international media, including The Washington Post, Publisher’s Weekly, The Lancet, and The London Times. Over the years it has been used enthusiastically by educators, health care professionals, and activists.

Since its original publication, the scientific evidence has been growing, and so, to coincide with the documentary adaptation, Da Capo Press released the second edition of the book in April 2010. It has been significantly rewritten to present all the newly emerging science on the link between synthetic chemicals and human cancer. Just as the first edition inspired the film, the film inspired Sandra’s writing of this new second edition. Readers and viewers will enjoy the creative connections between these works.

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