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The Polluters: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment [Kindle Edition]

Benjamin Ross , Steven Amter

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"The engrossing, infuriating history of American pollution... An important, disheartening account of widespread willful ignorance."--Kirkus Reviews"Startling, intense, and brilliantly elucidated... sharply relevant to the present-day disasters of the BP oil spill and the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion... an unlikely page-turner."--Booklist"The Polluters documents how the strategies used by today's polluters to duck regulation of their toxic chemicals were pioneered by polluters who poisoned the American landscape and killed hundreds of Americans in the early twentieth century. For nearly one-hundred years, corporate polluters have subverted democracy and corrupted public officials to control government regulation of toxic chemicals maximizing profits at the expense of public health."--Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. "The Polluters is a readable, comprehensive and authoritative study of the history of pollution. No matter how much you think you know about this issue, you'll learn something from this book--and you'll be outraged as well as informed."--David Kusnet, Chief Speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, 1992-1994 "The Polluters is a fascinating account of how the polluters in this country got away with murder for decades. This book puts a name and face on the many polluters who knew for years the damage they were doing to the public's health and to the environment and unveils their efforts to cover up the effects of this pollution; a must for any activist who wants to understand the strategies these polluters used to continue business as usual."--Lois Gibbs, Executive Director, Center for Health, Environment & Justice "The Polluters details how the chemical industry in the 20th century erected political and scientific barriers to government oversight by failing to test the toxicity of their compounds or, worse, keeping secret damning data about health risks of widely used and profitable chemicals."--Lyndsey Layton


The chemical pollution that irrevocably damages today's environment is, although many would like us to believe otherwise, the legacy of conscious choices made long ago. During the years before and just after World War II, discoveries like leaded gasoline and DDT came to market, creating new hazards even as the expansion and mechanization of industry exacerbated old ones. Dangers still felt today--smog, pesticides, lead, chromium, chlorinated solvents, asbestos, even global warming--were already recognized by chemists, engineers, doctors, and business managers of that era. A few courageous individuals spoke out without compromise, but still more ignored scientific truth in pursuit of money and prestige.
The Polluters reveals at last the crucial decisions that allowed environmental issues to be trumped by political agendas. It spotlights the leaders of the chemical industry and describes how they applied their economic and political power to prevent the creation of an effective system of environmental regulation. Research was slanted, unwelcome discoveries were suppressed, and friendly experts were placed in positions of influence, as science was subverted to serve the interests of business. The story of The Polluters is one that needs to be told, an unflinching depiction of the onslaught of chemical pollution and the chemical industry's unwillingness to face up to its devastating effects.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1161 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 234 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0199739951
  • Verlag: Oxford University Press (4. August 2010)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B003X4L0DG
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.5 von 5 Sternen  11 Rezensionen
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A Nuanced Chemical History 13. Dezember 2010
Von Saleem Ali - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
There are also several academic case histories of particular industrial establishments across the country. However, none of these earlier works make the connections between chemical innovation, consumer culture and the political manipulation of science, in a synthetic way that Ross and Amter provide in The Polluters. The authors start the book with three important questions: "What is the basis of scientific authority? Is science value-free or is it shaped by social and economic conditions? How does economic power influence government?"

These questions need to be addressed by scientists, engineers and policy-makers in concert and The Polluters provides a nuanced historical context for this conversation in a globalized economy. To this day most economists continue to refer to pollution as an "externality" - suggesting that the salience of the natural environment cannot be captured by market mechanisms. This book shows us how this linear logic of economic expediency in the early twentieth century defiled not only the environment but also the scientific process itself.

Where industry deserves to be praised, the authors are willing to do so without hesitation. Numerous industrial researchers who stood up for environmental consciousness are mentioned in heroic terms. In particular the authors devote a chapter to Wilhelm Hueper who started to work on environmental cancer concerns long before Rachel Carson's work popularized concerns about the impact of pesticides in this context. His career trajectory, which started at Haskell Labs and meandered through industrial appointments, ultimately landed him at the National Cancer Institute. Even at the corporate level, where there was a shift in compliance culture, positive trends are acknowledged. For example, the environmental management of the Hanford site by Dupont is highlighted as ahead of its times and the leadership of corporate executives is duly praised.

Overall, The Polluters, is a commendable effort to present the history of industrial environmental harm with candor and clarity in a readable anecdotal form. The lessons of "regulatory capture" by industry and other special interest groups and its implications on scientific progress are important for us to consider in these times when global environmental issues are gaining political prominence.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An Eye Opening History 16. August 2010
Von Stuart C Elliott - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Benjamin Ross and Steven Amter have written a fascinating and eye-opening history of the companies, institutions, and policies that have created our chemically altered environment over the last century.

If Earth Day or the Love Canal tragedy were the events that brought the environmental crisis into your consciousness, then you owe it to yourself to read The Polluters. Even more so, if it was Global Warming or the BP oil spill.

Killer smog in LA and mass zinc poisoning in Denora, Pennsylvania are two dramatic events, just after WWII, covered by Ross and Amter. But there is also the story of DDT and leaded gasoline. The coverups by companies and the obfuscations of industry-influenced scientific groups are constants in the story.

Government has rarely been an effective regulator. The chemical industry in pursuing its own pecuniary interests has promoted and exploited an ideology of market fundamentalism, which has helped to negate and undermine efforts at regulation.

The Polluters is free of academic jargon and is written in a lively style.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Stirring Account of Industry Special Interests 2. September 2010
Von Jessica Slater - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
The Polluters in an engrossing tale of the men (n.b., all the women seem to have been on the side of good in this story) who battled the regulators and won the right to poison the environment from the early 1900s through to the 1970s. Rather than treating the chemical industry giants as monolithic entities Ross & Amter dig deeper to uncover the men behind the corporate facades who were largely responsible for the callous actions of these companies. This is a book that tells a timeless tale of special interests and the power they wield in the hallowed halls of government. The mantra of "more research was needed to understand the problem" can easily be found in current arguments about global warming and the more recently debated existence of underwater oil plumes in the gulf. The Polluters is a riveting narrative and at the end you are left wanting more, knowing the main characters in this tale are real and the story of our chemically altered environment is one that is continually unfolding.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Complicated Topic, Breezily Told 9. Oktober 2010
Von Marc Korman - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The Polluters is a great tour through the development of industry and the environmental regulation that eventually accompanied it. Although the book is meticulously researched with references to many reports, newspaper articles, and hearings, it never gets bogged down in the details. It is a quick read at under 200 pages as the authors jump around different time periods, industries, and pollutants. Highlights include something of a history of DuPont, the story of Donora, PA, and the fight over whether arsenic was safe to use on apples or other food. But the real takeaway the authors demonstrate is the repeated story of industry's response to the threat of regulation, often reflexively opposing it and calling for more research. The comparisons to the fight over greenhouse gas emissions and climate change is apparent and briefly explored by the authors.

There are successes however, including environmental legislation of the 1970s that created the EPA and established regimes for clean air and clean water, the Montreal Protocol of the 1980s which banned CFCs, and efforts in Los Angeles and St. Louis to limit smog.

The book's characters are a mixed bag of industry figures and scientists who often put their heads in the sand and those who saw what pollution was doing to our ecosystem and public health. With the exception of Rachel Carson, I do not think I had heard of any of these interesting figures before.
3 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Hard to believe that this important subject can be made so interesting 7. August 2011
Von Michael Brochstein - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
It is hard to believe that this important subject can be made so interesting and enjoyable to read. I expected a dry history and instead got a well documented story of greed at the expense of the health of you and me (the public). The story of how private companies were able to badly pollute the environment and to thwart any effort to curtail their actions for many many years. That a corporation would be profit driven is not news. What was new to me was how much government worked to support private enterprise at the expense of the public's health. Who would've thought that the "Public Health Service" worked for many of its years as if it were a branch of the chemical industry's trade association. The only public aspect of the PHS was the part where the public paid PHS's salaries.

As someone who has been reading on environmental issues for 30+ years much of the material in the book was actually new to me. I hope the large environmental periodicals (Sierra etc) from time to time excerpt parts of this book as much of the pre-1970 Earth Day era history of the chemical industry and the regulatory capture of various government entities resulting in huge amounts of very toxic pollution being released into the environment is truly not known by the average environmentalist or the public today. The degree of greed and regulatory capture by the industry is truly breathtaking and must never be allowed to happen again. The health of every one of us is truly at risk.
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