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Environmental Hazards: Toxic Waste and Hazardous Material.

This handbook in the World Contemporary Issues series by ABC-CLIO is a comprehensive reference guide for researchers arid legislative analysts tackling the topics of pollution by hazardous waste, pesticides, toxic substances, asbestos and oil.

Written by two Pennsylvania State University professors, the book places the environmental and public health dangers of such substances in a public policy framework. It features a complete annotated bibliography of books in the field as well as an extensive list of articles, government documents, videocassettes and organizations. A chapter describing federal and selected state laws and regulations is also useful.

The authors trace the history of environmental legislation and chronicle the fundamental laws that established the nation's system for managing hazardous materials. Special attention is given to hazardous waste cleanup and the Superfund legislation, also known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). This discussion yields a pertinent perspective as Congress debates the reauthorization of and possible changes to this landmark legislation.

The bulk of the handbook covers the topic in an objective, descriptive manner. A brief "Perspective" section, however, gives the authors' opinion on the ethical dimensions of managing toxic materials and the assessment of risk to human health and the environment.

They assert, "As a fundamental premise it must be recognized that a [hazardous materials management] policy cannot be guided by the philosophy that no risk is valid. Any policy will entail risks of some harm to the environment and individuals at some future time. A policy for the protection of health must be based on a method of assessing systematic risks so as to prevent the environment and human beings from experiencing basic harm deemed unjustifiable."

Legislators must assess various policy options by weighing the information provided by risk assessment and the evaluation technology. Sorting out such challenges is assisted by the solid work found in this handbook.
COPYRIGHT 1993 National Conference of State Legislatures
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Reed, James B.
Publication:State Legislatures
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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