T, G Solomon, M Valenti and A Huddle. 1999. Generations
at Risk: Reproductive Health and the Environment. MIT Press.
important book brings scientific information about the reproductive
effects of environmental contaminants to the public "in a readable
form while also serving as a resource to the medical, public health
and activist communities, policymakers and industry."
Chapter 11: Reflections and Recommendations.
to toxic chemicals without the informed consent of those exposed
emerges as a dominant theme throught this book. Sometimes
evidence of exposures or toxicity is disregarded, concealed,
or not communicated to those who bear risks. In other cases,
the risks are unknown or unstudied, but exposures continue.
Many factors conspire to maintain a system that fails to incorporate
basic principles of public health practice or to acknowledge
fundamental human rights: a fragmented and reactive approach
to problem solving, the perception of science as completely
objective, an uninformed public, an economic system that encourages
rapid development and marketing of new chemical products,
and the curious notion that corporations have the right to
expose people to untested chemicals."
book contains four main sections:
information about reproductive physiology and toxicology. This
is an excellent, in-depth yet accessible overview that establishes
the scientific basis for understanding subsequent sections.
of the reproductivity toxicity of metals, solvents and pesticides.
As Schettler et al. note, it's not possible to review the toxicology
of all compounds to which people are exposed (because there are
tens of thousands and for most of them, relevant studies have
not been done). But they do an excellent job covering many of
the best known.
guide to the regulatory system... its history, structure and weaknesses.
This is a solid, comprehensive overview that highlights how fragmented
current policies are and thus how inadequate the protections they
guides for (i) people at home and (ii) health care workers who
are concerned about potential exposures at work, at home or in
of this book is useful, as a reference for specific toxicological
issues, as a primer on the regulatory process, and as a concise
overview of the basics of reproductive physiology and toxicology.
of the book are particularly incisive and instructive:
on sound science (page 310):
voices of industry have been among the loudest promoting the idea
that science can and must be practiced totally independent of political
and economic interests. They have argued that policy decisions must
be based on sound science rather than emotion or ideology. What
they have in mind is a particular interpretation of science focusing
on understanding molecular mechanisms, specific definitions of proof
and causation, and narrow definitions of adverse effects. They imply
that cautionary health-protective actions, taken without proof of
causation and harm, are not scientifically sound and unjustified.
... Even today, the lack of proof of harm, where proof is defined
with full scientific rigor, continues to be used as an excuse for
manufacturing and marketing harmful products. Used in this way,
science, promoted as the impartial mediator, contributres to a failure
to protect public and environmental health. [With this section Schettler
et al. anticipate comments by The
Royal Society's June 2000 report on endocrine disrupting chemicals.]