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Aerosol technology, second edition.

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    Aerosol technology, second edition. By William C Hinds. (Pp 483; £58.50). 1999. Chichester: John Wiley. ISBN 0 471 19410 7

    Aerosol science is a challenge to all inhalation toxicologists. The mathematics and physics can be daunting and many texts are aimed, understandably, at the physical scientist rather than at the biologist or medical worker. Some books do not seem to explain enough; others, far too much. Finding a comprehensive account that a non-mathematician, like me, understands is itself a challenge. But: Hind's book provides the solution. Detailed but clear, it explains just about everything the hygienist and toxicologist need to know about aerosols.

    The first edition appeared in 1982 and rapidly became the established text in the field; the second edition appeared last year and is even better. The author has adopted an approach that leads the reader gently through the physics providing examples that can be followed (no use of words such as “immediately” or “thus” followed by some terrible equation) and convinces one that the concepts can be mastered. If this is doubted see the chapter on particle size statistics: this is just outstanding. I remember finding with joy, in the first edition, the distinction between mass mean diameter and diameter of average mass and being reassured that this was regarded as confusing! The explanation is provided in such a clear way that anybody can grasp it.

    The author has updated and expanded his chapters on properties of gases, particle motion, filtration, sampling and measurement, and on condensation and evaporation. A new chapter on bioaerosols and much expansion in the chapter on microscopy has allowed the concept of fractals to be added. The discussion of fractal geometry is another example of how well the author explains a difficult issue. Being told that Df, the fractal dimension, is a measure of the complexity of the edge of an enclosed area is helpful; being told that if the coastline of the United Kingdom were a smooth straight line, Df would = 1.0 and that if it were maximally complex Df would = 2.0 helps even more. I hate being unable to deduce such things. The United Kingdom coastline Df = 1.24. The author then shows how this can be applied to particles, such as the aggregates found in diesel exhaust.

    The book concludes with a useful set of appendices providing much valuable data.

    This book looks mathematical and may at first glance be off putting. If you are interested in aerosols and not a mathematician do not be put off: this book may well be your only chance of learning enough to be able to talk sensibly to the physicists! At £58.50 this book is excellent value: easily the best in the field.