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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: J. Thomas Pierce, MBBS PhD(Navy Environmental Health Center)
Description: As a matter of background, the Environmental and Occupational Health Council selected risk assessment as a 2004 topic. Sixteen significant chapters and 11 intriguing case studies emerged. Thus, risk assessment relevant to environmental health becomes a topic sufficient to warrant publication sponsorship by the Association of Schools of Public Health.
Purpose: The editors and authors reason that risk assessment is an important part of the training of environmental and occupational health students as well as others studying toxicology and environmental medicine and engineering. In its broadest context, risk assessment is the penultimate task facing not only scientists but our citizenry.
Audience: This book will find broad adoption throughout public health programs, but I encourage a broader readership among scientific and policy audiences. Neither its mathematics nor its biology is at all exclusionary.
Features: The 11 case studies address multiple contaminants and pathways, intraspecies differences (acrylonitrile), rocket fuel contamination (perchlorate anion), asthmagens and endocrine disruptors affecting young and old, swimming pool issues, U-shaped dose-response relationships, ecosystem (river) risk assessments and comparative and community risk analyses. Readers could start with one or more case studies, reasoning whether they agree with the authors' findings and then return to the 16 didactic chapters for review.
Assessment: The authors and editors have done a good job of summarizing tools that stretch along a continuum beginning with molecules and receptors, stretching through regulations and modeled frameworks and extending to multiple species and even populations. A risk assessor routinely probably uses about a half dozen of the techniques outlined in the 16 chapters, depending upon his/her interests. What sets this book apart are its thought questions coupled with interesting case studies. Every reader will react a little differently, but mention of communities such as Triana (Alabama) or the Neuse River Estuary (North Carolina) or terms such as toxicokinetics and gene expression will generate powerful images. This book can encourage newcomers learning the art and science of risk assessment as well as the more experienced to perfect its process and outcome.