Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet

By Seymour Garte | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Toxic Substances

At a scientific meeting on the toxicity of benzene, a number of scientists including myself presented their research on people who had been exposed to benzene. Benzene is a toxic chemical (and also a carcinogen), but it is still used in many industrial applications because it is such a good solvent. It is also a component in gasoline, crude oil, and cigarette smoke. There was a general problem with many of the presentations at the symposium. The subjects of the study, some of them workers in the petrochemical industry or workers who used glues or materials made with benzene, were not exposed to very high levels of benzene. In fact, for most of the studies the benzene from cigarette smoking was ten times greater than the amount coming from air pollution caused by automobiles or the amount from working with benzene in a chemical plant.

There were two major exceptions to this. One was a series of studies done in China, where workers who glued soles onto shoes using a benzenebased glue faced extremely high exposure. The other exception was the study I was involved in, using a small group of petrochemical workers from Bulgaria, where the proper engineering controls had not yet been installed. One of my colleagues remarked that doing scientific studies in order to understand the effects of toxic chemicals like benzene in people was becoming almost impossible because it was becoming very hard to find groups of peo

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Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • List of Figures v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Part I - Where We Stand Now- Reasons for Optimism 25
  • Chapter 2 - Health 27
  • Chapter 3 - Environmental Quality 58
  • Chapter 4 - Toxic Substances 80
  • Chapter 5 - Ecology and Biodiversity 104
  • Chapter 6 - Global Welfare and the Human Population 120
  • Part II - Where We Have Been- Historical Lessons 143
  • Chapter 7 - Political Climate and Health 145
  • Chapter 8 - From Bad to Better 171
  • Chapter 9 - Case Histories—Lead, Ozone, Tobacco, Gmos 204
  • Part III - The Way Forward 239
  • Chapter 10 - Environmental Philosophies and World Views 241
  • Epilogue- The Future 265
  • Bibliography 273
  • Index 283
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