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This is a comprehensive occupational hygiene textbook written from a North American perspective. There are 67 chapters in four separate volumes, a total of 3453 pages covering everything from hazard recognition to control of emissions from industrial processes. Each volume is available separately although there is a discount for those who decide to purchase the four volumes together.
The first edition of Patty's industrial hygiene was produced over 50 years ago, with each subsequent edition being produced at about 10 year intervals. The scope of the work has continued to expand as occupational hygienists have become involved with a wider range of problems. This edition brings together updated material that was previously published inPatty's industrial hygiene and toxicologyand The theory and rationale of industrial hygiene. These books are mainly intended as a reference source for the professional occupational hygienist, but they provide such a diverse range of material that it is likely that anyone involved with occupational health would find much of interest within them.
Volume 1 comprises 18 chapters that deal with recognition and evaluation of hazardous substances. There are seven new chapters with the remainder updated to a greater or lesser extent. The new sections include contributions on occupational dermatitis, aerosol science, endocrine disrupters, and multiple chemical sensitivity. The remaining parts cover basic toxicology and measurement of hazardous substances.
Volume 2 comprises sections on physical agents (seven chapters), engineering control plus personal protective equipment (six chapters) and biohazards (two chapters). The chapters on biohazards are both new to this edition of Patty's industrial hygiene. Much of the material in the section on physical agents is specific to the United States, for example the use of 5 dB adjustment for noise exposure rather than 3 dB, which is used in Europe. There is also extensive reference to specific sections within United States legislation and guidance. The revised chapter on non-ionising radiation has not been included in the paper version book and we are left with a one page addendum to the chapter written for the fourth edition to describe the research on the potential adverse effects of low frequency magnetic fields and cellular telephones. An editorial note suggests that a revised chapter may be included in the CD-ROM version of the book.
Volume 3 contains 18 chapters on legal, regulatory, and managerial aspects of occupational hygiene practice. Most of this volume is specific to United States legislation, although three chapters are of more general interest: pharmacokinetics and unusual work schedules, the biological basis of occupational exposure limits, and a chapter on biological monitoring. The chapter on pharmokinetics and unusual work schedules by Dr Dennis Paustenbach is a particularly useful review of this topic that is accessible to the general reader and provides practical advice about how to evaluate the risks for people who have to work very long periods or non-standard shift patterns.
Volume 4 has a further 16 chapters that cover specialised areas and associated professional topics. This book has chapters on occupational health nursing, epidemiology, ergonomics, occupational safety, fire and explosions, indoor air quality, air pollution, and hazardous wastes.
There is an uneven feel to these books, with the consequence that the reader is uncertain of what to expect before beginning a chapter. The level of the material varies from straightforward introductory standard to complex discussions of specific technical issues—for example, there is a long chapter on the statistical interpretation of monitoring data. Some chapters—such as the one dealing with man made mineral fibres—seem ill conceived because the material is unlikely to be relevant a few years from now. Several of the chapters use imperial units, others have either SI units or a mixture of systems, which in my opinion serves to confuse the reader. Each chapter has an extensive bibliography, but there is no standardisation of the format of the citations. A minor but annoying point when the content of a reference is not apparent from the material quoted.
One major omission is a discussion of the recent developments in assessment and control of dermal exposure. This is an area of occupational hygiene practice that has seen considerable research efforts, both to develop new techniques to measure hazardous substances contaminating the skin and to evaluate the effectiveness of gloves and clothing in protecting people at work. Otherwise these books are a comprehensive source of information about occupational hygiene in the United States. For European occupational health practitioners there are many individual chapters that are both interesting and informative. However, overall these books are not good value for money for people working outside North America.
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