Chlorine, Health, and a New Environmental Strategy
Posted: 29 October 2003
Author: Joe Thornton
The Mit Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts / London, England,
2000, $24.95/Â£16.95 pb
Pandora's Poison presents a solution to one of the most insidious environmental problems of our time: the global build-up of toxic chemicals.
Everywhere on the planet, hundreds of industrial chemicals called organochlorines are accumulating in the environment, the food supply, and our bodies. These substances - such infamous pollutants as dioxins, PCBs, and DDT, along with thousands of lesser-known hazards - are produced when chlorine gas is used to make plastics, paper, pesticides, and many industrial chemicals. In a thorough and accessible analysis, biologist Joe Thornton shows how global organochlorine pollution is already contributing to infertility, immune suppression, cancer, and developmental disorders in humans and wildlife.
Thornton proposes a major shift in environmental science and policy. He shows that the current framework radically over-estimates the ability of science and technology to address the complex global hazards of chemical mixtures. And he reveals how the "sound science" that dominates environmental regulations disguises political biases that protect polluters and gamble with public health.
Articulating principles for a new environmental strategy, Thornton shows that the only practical solution is to take global action on broad classes of hazardous chemicals and the processes that produce them, starting with organochlorines. He lays out a democratically controlled program to replace the production and use of chlorine gas and its derivatives with safer, effective, and economically feasible alternatives, which are already available for the majority of chlorine uses.
With an innovative interdisiciplinary approach, Pandora's Poison promises to revolutionize the debate over pollution, health, and the role of science in public policy.
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