Chemicals pervade our lives. While the benefits to society from the development of these chemicals have been impressive, enabling safer, more efficient and more convenient consumer products and life-saving pharmaceuticals, many chemicals also have a dark side. Today, a growing awareness of the risks posed to humans and the environment from harmful chemicals has stimulated intensive investigations into their lifecycle and the unintended consequence of their use.
The topic is vast, though much of what is known about many potentially harmful chemicals has been assembled in a new book, appearing this week: Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment: Ecological and Health Considerations, published by the American Chemical Society.
Rolf Halden, a biologist and engineer at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University edited the ambitious volume, which provides a sourcebook to researchers in the field as well as to policymakers grappling with the daunting challenges facing chemically reliant societies.
"The book consists of 27 chapters, covering everything from the sources of environmental pollution with pharmaceuticals and personal care products and other emerging contaminants, to exposure, environmental bioaccumulation and health effects on aquatic and terrestrial biota, as well as on humans," Halden says.
Chemical contaminants have begun to undermine the foundations of the planet's ecosystem the air, water, soil and food supply upon which all life depends. Robert S. Lawrence, director of the Center for a Livable Future at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, writes the following, in his preface to the book: "On the horizon looms a perfect storm. The production of new chemicals stretches and often exceeds the capacity of current safety monitoring and risk assessment technologies."
As Halden explains, the book grew out of an extensive symposium held in 2009, in Washington, D.C. Entitled Emer
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Arizona State University