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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Patrick Thomas O'Shaughnessy, MS, PhD (University of Iowa College of Public Health)
Description: This book describes the application of epidemiological principles needed to discover associations between human health effects and exposure to environmental contaminants. With the use of interesting examples from the scientific literature, this very readable book covers the entire field of environmental epidemiology from the basic principles of epidemiology to an assessment of the societal and policy implications of results obtained from these studies.
Purpose: The editors have solicited the aid of an international group of distinguished epidemiologists for the purpose of combining in one book a description of pertinent epidemiological methods with a variety of examples of how those methods are applied to studies of the environmental effects on human health.
Audience: The editors assume that readers have taken at least an introductory course in epidemiology and therefore do not provide more than an overview of the principles taught in such a course. This book was therefore developed with the more advanced graduate student in mind, although it is written in such a way that it could be easily understood by any interested readers, such as biostatisticians, geneticists, toxicologists, and environmental health practitioners seeking to better understand the application of environmental epidemiological principles regardless of their background in epidemiology.
Features: The book is written in a narrative format with only essential equations and supporting tables and graphs interjected as needed. As such, readers are not given enough detail to properly analyze data obtained from an epidemiological investigation. Rather, a variety of topics such as measurement error, spatial epidemiology, study implementation, and risk assessment are described, which provide a thorough understanding of the many aspects of environmental epidemiology currently conducted by researchers around the world. These topics include the most recent issues under investigation such as molecular epidemiology and the use of geographical information systems (GIS) to better determine spatial associations between health effects and pollutant sources.
Assessment: Although I am not an epidemiologist, as a scientist interested in environmental health issues and the adverse health effects caused by air pollutants in particular, I found this book very interesting. Although this may not seem a detailed or profound statement, it is the ability of a book to maintain a reader's interest and thereby confer the knowledge it imparts that is the ultimate proof of its usefulness.