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This is the 3rd edition of what has become a standard work in the fields of inhalation toxicology and air pollution science. The editors have, again, put together a series of chapters by recognised authorities: some pick up and develop topics considered in the 2nd, and even 1st editions; others deal with new problems. Some potential buyers will be wondering why they should pay £110.00 for this edition when the 2nd (1993) still contains much of relevance and importance. The answer is that we are living in a period when air pollution science is advancing rapidly: much of what was thought about the effects, or lack of effects, of air pollutants on health in the early 1990s is no longer believed today. This book provides an invaluable update.
It is not possible to review all chapters in detail but a few that seemed particularly important are: Harkema on the nasal airways (replacing K T Morgan in the second edition); cytokines and regulation of pulmonary inflammation by Driscoll; epidemiolgical approaches to investigating outdoor and indoor air pollution by Samet and Jaakkola; environmental asthma by Frew and colleagues (possibly the first United Kingdom—although not the first European—contribution to this series), and chemical studies of air pollutants by Frampton and Utell. So a lot of well known names and the usual competent reviews. There is rather less anatomical material and lung cell biology in this edition than in previous ones. To the air pollution specialist the chapter by Graham and colleagues from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a jewel. They have provided us with an update on the criteria air pollutants (known in Europe as the classic air pollutants) in about 35 pages. Brilliant! Almost like a condensed EPA staff paper and indispensable for workers in countries, such as the United Kingdom, where resources are, in comparison with the United States EPA, limited. The tabulation of data from epidemiological studies on the effects of particles makes this chapter especially valuable. The problem of particles is dealt with in more detail by Roger McClellan in a long and very detailed chapter (11). This is in effect an “all you need to know” chapter and takes us from sources of particles and deposition in the lung, through evidence of effects, to standard setting and needs for research. McClellan expands on standard setting in a later chapter and this, too, is good. Despite this I was left with a feeling that someone of McClellan's distinction could have gone further and given us more of his own views. The United States regulatory system in both the ambient and the occupational context is extraordinarily rigid and legalistic. Need it be like this? Do ambient air quality standards help? Given recent epidemiological work do we need animal to man extrapolation in setting air quality standards? As the honours papers used to say: discuss! A book of this type should do more than present the facts, it should give us the arguments: in this alone the book is limited.
Well then, worth £110.00? Yes, I think so. The updating chapters, alone, are worth it. I hope the editors will soon be thinking about a 4th edition: let us have more arguments—especially about the usefulness and validity of current regulatory practices.