OF MICE AND MOLECULES: Technology and Human Survival by

OF MICE AND MOLECULES: Technology and Human Survival

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A bland overview--misleadingly titled and subtitled--of man-made environmental health hazards. The problem is simple and widely recognized by now (except by Ronald Reagan who, we're reminded, once declared air pollution to be under control--just before his plane was unable to land in Los Angeles because of smog); along with industrial development have come massive amounts of toxic wastes which we're unable to dispose of and which are affecting our health. Skjei and Whorton indicate the types of toxins (carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens) and the extent of the earth's contamination; they then describe the human body's defenses. (The respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract, and the skin all have membranes that try to filter out harmful substances.) The most interesting information--reflecting Whorton's involvement in occupational health--is a brief history of ""Occupational Harbingers"": how we were first alerted to such hazards by the appearance of specific maladies in asbestos Workers (chronic, fatal lung disease) and in chemical workers (sterility from pesticides)--which led, in 1970, to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. For the rest, the authors review air, water, and food-supply hazards; hazardous wastes; and radiation effects. Their facts are in order--but none are new. As for the future, ""the single most critical factor influencing environmental health issues will continue to be energy costs and use patterns."" An unexciting roundup with some reference potential.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Dial