TROUBLED WATER by Jonathan King


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Standard, if reasonably solid, environmental fare: a catalogue of the myriad threats to the nation's drinking water supplies, from toxic waste dumps and agricultural chemicals to military installations and leaky underground storage tanks, and regulatory remissness, including the evisceration of the Environmental Protection Agency under Reagan. It's tied together with stories of people who blame all this for a host of health problems. Drinking water started making headlines in 1974 when the EPA announced that 66 toxic chemicals, many suspected of causing cancer and other serious ailments, were found in New Orleans' water. King documents more recent studies, which among other things have shown that more than half of the country's large public water systems are contaminated with industrial chemicals and two-thirds of the water consumed in rural households violates at least one health standard. Meanwhile, Americans spend some $2 billion a year on bottled waters and home water filters. No breathtaking new revelations here. King's book is at its best when it sheds its investigative reporter's cloak and becomes a guide to citizen action. Anyone wondering how to track down sources of pollution threatening local water supplies, including how to fie a freedom of information request and what state officials to contact for help, what the most common chemical contaminants and their effects on human health are, how difficult it is to sue for health damages, etc., will find it a useful tool. Anyone seeking a breakthrough in environmental writing or thinking, other than the usual bromides about how we must stop producing so many toxic products, had better look elsewhere.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1985
Publisher: Rodale