When Smoke Ran Like Water

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9780465015214: When Smoke Ran Like Water

In When Smoke Ran Like Water, the world-renowned epidemiologist Devra Davis confronts the public triumphs and private failures of her lifelong battle against environmental pollution. By turns impassioned and analytic, she documents the shocking toll of a public-health disaster--300,000 deaths a year in the U.S. and Europe from the effects of pollution--and asks why we remain silent. She shows how environmental toxins contribute to a broad spectrum of human diseases, including breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and emphysema--all major killers--and in addition how these toxins affect the health and development of the heart and lungs, and even alter human reproductive capacity.But the battle against pollution is not just scientific. For Davis, it's personal: pollution is what killed many in her family and forced the others, survivors of the 1948 smog emergency in Donora, Pennsylvania, to live out their lives with damaged health. She vividly describes that episode and also makes startling revelations about how the deaths from the London smog of 1952 were falsely attributed to influenza; how the oil companies and auto manufacturers fought for decades to keep lead in gasoline, while knowing it caused brain damage; behind-the-scenes accounts of the battle to recognize breast cancer as a major killer; and many other battles. When Smoke Ran Like Water makes a devastating case that our approaches to public health need to change.

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About the Author:

Devra Davis, Ph.D., M.P.H., is the Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Professor of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health. She was appointed by President Clinton to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board in 1994 and also served as Scholar in Residence at the National Academy of Science. She works in Pittsburgh, and lives in Washington, D.C. She is married to Richard D. Morgenstern and has two children and two grandchildren.

From Publishers Weekly:

Davis, one of the world's leading epidemiologists and researchers on environmentally linked illness, writes about her lifelong battle against environmental pollution in strong prose, underlined with some horrifying stories. With a special emphasis on air pollution and its long-term effects, Davis anecdotally talks about some of the most infamous smogs and fogs of all time, including the Donora Fog (October 26, 1948) that left a small zinc-factory town in Pennsylvania blanketed in a thick, toxic fog for over a week. "Within days, nearly half the town would fall ill" and within one 24-hour period 18 people had died. She argues that these incidents are underreported because the industries responsible for the pollutants are often powerful corporations or the major employer in these small towns. Research into the long-term effects of pollution, such as breast and testicular cancer, reveals that people in the Northeast (including Long Island and Connecticut) and in California have a higher incidence of serious illnesses. Most importantly, Davis brings to the fore the long-lasting effects of growing up and living in a polluted atmosphere, clearly demonstrating that "people living in areas with the dirtiest air had the highest risk of dying." She sounds the warning bell loud and clear: the threat to public health is real. This is an enlightening, engrossing read (with an intro by Gaynor, a leading oncologist at the Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York City), which should be on the shelf of anyone who cares about the environment and wants to learn more about policy, health and politics; Davis weaves all of these together with grace.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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