AMERICA THE POISONED by Lewis Regenstein


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An effective but unoriginal broadside against present US management of herbicides, pesticides, and toxic wastes--with some rash contentions re air pollution and cancer causation. As Regenstein puts it, the two chemicals that together make Agent Orange--2,4,5-T and 2,4-D--are routinely sprayed in large quantities over rural and suburban areas, despite solid evidence that they cause birth defects, cancer, impaired health, and even death. He details efforts by the chemical industry lobby, in particular, to prevent their banning, and attacks what he calls the myth of the ""banned"" pesticides: of the ""33,000 to 35,000 registered pesticide products on the market. . . the EPA has effectively banned the use of only about a dozen."" On the basis of specific, (usually) authorized uses, DDT is still ""extensively used in the US""; on firmer, if familiar ground, large quantities are exported, ""with some of it returning to us on imported food."" (Instead, Regenstein advocates ""Integrated Pest Management,"" using a combination of pest-control systems--crop management, sterile insects, etc.--to reduce pesticide use up to 80 percent.) Toxic waste, we're warned, amounts to 80 million tons per year--and is especially a hazard in aquifers, which unlike a river or lake may remain polluted for ""geologic time."" As regards air pollution, Regenstein's arguments are sometimes based on highly questionable studies (e.g., Mendelsohn and Orcutt's finding that nine percent of US mortality was due to air pollution); and his overall linkage of cancer to toxic substances is contested by many experts. Also presented, in a separate section, are an array of ""toxic scandals"" guaranteed to shake you up. An angry book altogether--and, while not invalid, less persuasive than the more sober and discriminating studies.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1982
Publisher: Acropolis