The Environmental Pendulum: A Quest for the Truth about Toxic Chemicals, Human Health, and Environmental Protection

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University of California Press, Apr 12, 2000 - Medical - 323 pages
The pendulum of environmental policy swings from one extreme to the other, depending on which camp is in power and who has the ear of the media. Underkill is followed by overkill. Concern breeds action; disillusion breeds reaction. The Environmental Pendulum provides a thoughtful and evenhanded assessment of this conflict.

Tens of thousands of sites across the country are contaminated with toxic chemicals. Environmentalists warn us that this legacy of carelessness is seriously affecting both human health and the ecological balance of nature. They point out that even improved industrial practices will not eliminate future chemical releases to the environment. Their demand for regulatory control has received wide public support and led to the passage of the Superfund legislation in 1980. Now, after twenty years, the value of the Superfund program is being challenged by corporate America, which argues that excessive cleanup costs have the potential to bankrupt the nation.

R. Allan Freeze outlines the difficulties associated with the management of hazardous waste and offers a balanced account of the controversy over the role of environmental contamination in human health. Freeze clarifies what matters and what doesn't with respect to chemical contaminants in the environment, arguing that environmental policies should be based on an accurate appraisal of the risks associated with these toxins. He concludes the book with a brilliant summation of the good news and the bad news of environmental pollution, describing what can and can't be done to bring the situation under control.
 

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Contents

Prologue A Day at Smithville Chapter 1 The Polarization of the Environment
7
Tables
12
The Environmental Consequences of Our Engineered Way of Life
48
What Matters and What Doesnt
94
O Cost per life saved for a selection of riskreducing
138
Impacts of contaminated sites
144
The Unpleasant Truths about Waste Management
147
Disposal instructions for solvents on Chemical Safety
151
Solubilities and regulatory standards for some representative organic chemicals
207
Status of emerging technologies for insitu site cleanup
210
The Regulatory Quagmire
221
The Environmental Game
253
Players in the environmental game
255
Some sources of technical uncertainty
262
Examples of social bias
266
Solutions
282

Recyclable wastes from certain industrial processes
159
Fate and transport of selected chemicals
170
The Unpleasant Truths about Remediation
197
Remedial options at Prices Landfill
200
Sources
291
Index
311
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About the author (2000)

R. Allan Freeze is former Professor and Director in the Geological Engineering Program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He is the coauthor of Groundwater (1979) and Groundwater Contamination: Optimal Capture and Containment (1993), and the coeditor of Physical Hydrogeology (1983).

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