Our Children's Toxic Legacy: How Science and Law Fail to Protect Us from Pesticides

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Yale University Press, 1998 - Law - 390 pages
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During this century, hundreds of billions of pounds of pesticides have been released to the global environment. How are we exposed to them? What can we do to protect ourselves? In this extraordinary analysis, John Wargo, one of the nation's leading experts in pesticide policy, traces the history of pesticide law and science, with a focus on the special hazards faced by children.

By 1969, nearly 60,000 separate pesticide products were registered for use by the U.S. government, each with the expectation that pesticides could be used safely, that they quickly broke down into harmless substances, or that dangerous levels of exposure could be accurately predicted and somehow avoided. Faith in these assumptions was gradually eroded as experts grew to understand the persistence, movement, and toxicity of the chemicals involved. Nevertheless, government continues to hold the discretion to balance risks against economic benefits in its licensing decisions. The underlying legal strategy, Wargo claims, has been one that places extraordinary faith in government's ability to somehow ensure that only safe levels of contamination and exposure occur. And the effect has been systematic neglect of those exposures and risks faced by children.

Wargo presents a compelling case that children are more heavily exposed to some pesticides than adults and are especially vulnerable to some adverse effects. How should the fractured body of environmental law be repaired to manage the distribution of risk? This is the central question Wargo addresses as he suggests fundamental reforms of science and law necessary to understand and contain the health risks faced by children.
 

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Our children's toxic legacy: how science and law fail to protect us from pesticides

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Wargo (political science, Yale), a former member of two National Academy of Science committees researching pesticide regulations, showcases his many years of research experience in this comprehensive ... Read full review

Contents

The Global Experiment
3
A Race Against Time
43
Pesticide Law Before 1972
67
EPA as the Gatekeeper of Risk
86
The Delaney Paradox
104
Evolving Knowledge
128
The Susceptibility of Children
172
The Diet of a Child
201
Simplification of Exposure and Risk
219
The Complex Mixture Problem
235
Restating the Pesticide Problem
251
Toward Reform
270
Epilogue
289
Abbreviations
311
Index
381
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