Health and the Environment, Volume 584

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Sage Periodicals Press, 2002 - Environmental health - 212 pages
From the Preface: This special issue of The Annals addresses environmental health, an area that has become a very significant part of popular concern, government attention, and scientific research. What exactly do we mean by "environmental health"? The broadest definition would include the totality of unhealthy living and working conditions: bacteria and viruses in human waste; animal vectors for infectious diseases; surface water and groundwater pollution; air pollution from fires, vehicle exhaust, and incineration; chemical and petroleum product spills and explosions; and disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, and fires (which may be either natural, human caused, or human exacerbated). But that definition is broad enough to encompass virtually all disease-causing factors. I believe we are better off focusing on the health effects caused by toxic substances in people's immediate or proximate surroundings (soil, air, water, food, and household goods), a definition that mirrors most research and policy on environmental health. These are chemical-related, air-pollution-related, and radiation-related symptoms and diseases that affect groups of people in workplaces and communities. Focusing on toxic substances makes sense for several reasons. Toxic exposure has engendered much conflict, policy making, legislation, public awareness, media attention, and social movement activity. It leads to disputes between lay people and professionals, between citizens and governments, and among professionals. And toxic exposure demonstrates interesting and ongoing examples of social problems construction and political contestation concerning environmentally induced diseases.

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PREFACE Phil Brown

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