For the most part, the FDA doesn’t require that the chemicals used in your shampoos, lipsticks, deodorants, and other personal care products be tested. Does that alarm you? It should. Monitoring the toxic load of what we put on our bodies is just as important as monitoring what we put in them, and don’t look first to the FDA for advice on what’s healthy for you in either regard. Instead, for environmental health news, look to the source, and check out Environmental Health Perspectives’ new Researcher’s Perspective series. Each month, the series (a podcast) interviews one of today’s environmental health big wigs and makes their newest, most groundbreaking research accessible.

The series covers a whole lot more than what’s in personal care products. It goes into depth on critical, under-reported such as: the link between autism and mercury, DDT, the EPA’s efforts to streamline chemical testing so that more of our are vetted before we smear them on our bodies (by the way, the skin is an organ, and a lot of what we put on it makes its way directly into tissue and bloodstreams), toxicity and breastfeeding, and the impacts of industrial farming on human health.

And as of a few months ago, the podcast’s got a fresh new host: Ashley Ahearn, a science and environment reporter, formerly of Public Radio International’s Living On Earth. She’s got a serious knack for helping the experts explain convoluted environmental health issues, and why we should all care.

Don’t think mercury matters much to you? In this month’s podcast, Ahearn interviews Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an environmental epidemiologist with the MIND (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute at UC Davis in Sacramento – and picks her brain on the much-debated connection between the fastest growing developmental disability today, and mercury, a toxin our coal industry is dumping into water sources around the world (and which, controversially, has been used in vaccines). Dr. Hertz-Picciotto believes that her autism research - which she conducts under umbrella project The Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) - could someday help the scientific community identify the causes of the disorder, and eliminate cases.