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Principles of toxicology: environmental and industrial applications, 2nd edition
  1. A D DAYAN

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    Principles of toxicology: environmental and industrial applications, 2nd edition. Edited by: p l williams, r c james, s m roberts. (Pp xvii + 1-603; £). 2000. New York: John Wiley. ISBN: 0 471 29321 0.

    The declared intention of the book is to present “ . . .compactly and efficiently the scientific basis to [sic] toxicology as it applies to the workplace and the environment”, and it succeeds at a practical level.

    The editors and authors all come from the eastern half of the United States, which gives a particular cast to the topics covered, and particularly to the sources cited and the approach to the evaluation of data. They have still served the reader well by the breadth of the coverage and the clarity of the presentation.

    The three main sections cover: the principles of toxicology; areas of concern including reproduction, carcinogenicity, the effects of metals, pesticides, solvents and natural toxins; and applications including risk assessment, occupational and environmental health, epidemiology, and the control of hazards in the work place. Each topic is followed by a concise summary and a short, reasonably up to date list of references and suggested reading (not distinguished). There are some graphs, diagrams, and occasional illustrative sketches and grainy photographs.

    The strong points of the book are its breadth in its chosen areas (although workplace related matters get more attention than environmental issues—for example, lead gets almost four times the space of dioxins) and clarity. Its weaknesses are the parochialism and the simplicity imposed by the coverage of many topics. Information and its evaluation are presented more as “givens” than as opportunities for arguments to illustrate principles and their modification in practice. Although the book seems to be directed towards practical users of toxicological decisions it does not cover the sources of information, nor does it offer a guide even to the multifarious United States agencies involved; federal activities seem less important than state or local actions. Other countries and even international bodies with which the United States may cooperate are omitted.

    None the less, this would be a useful book to have as a quick source of information and as a guide to some of the principles underlying the successful application of toxicology some of the time and in some circumstances. In a contrary way, it would be an ideal base for high level students to identify deficiencies in its very pragmatic approach to toxicology and to learn by remedying them with knowledge from elsewhere.

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