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 She Documents The Shocking Toll Of A Public Health Disaster , Deaths A Year In The US And Europe From The Effects Of Pollution And Asks Why We Remain Silent For Davis, The Issue Is Personal Pollution Is What Killed Many In Her Family And Forced Some Of The Others, Survivors Of The Smog Emergency In Donora, Pennsylvania, To Live Out Their Lives With Impaired Health She Describes That Episode And Also Makes Startling Revelations About How The Deaths From The London Smog Of 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 And Many Other Battles When Smoke Ran Like Water Makes A Devastating Case For Change Devra Davis is great She s a great role model for girls a brilliant woman scientist who is not afraid to speak the truth. A little depressing, dry at times, but overall it covers important topics and concepts that need to be well known today. If you re interested in the political relationship between science and public health in the US, this book is for you I thoroughly enjoyed this book cover to cover, and Devra Davis is now one of my personal heroes Some types of scientific advances, such as new technology for your smartphone, are easily gobbled up by the public Others, such as scientific evidence regarding environmental toxins, are a lot harder for the public and the government to swallow This book is about human experience of environmental health, and the colossal effort it takes to enact change in government bodies Devra mostly talks about industrial air pollution, and also includes an interesting history on the way that legislation and beliefs about tobacco smoke has changed over time However, this book is not only for people who are interested in air pollution The lessons and stories will inspire anyone interested in any type of environmental health, the process of making large scale change in society, and the frustrating task of getting people to believe in science.The autobiographical details add to the narrative in a way that makes this non fiction book truly engaging This is not a story from some objective outsider s perspective, it is the story of a woman who lives her life by fighting unrelentlessly for what she believes in. Environmental epidemiology is what Devra Davis does She is also from Donora PA It was here that the first major air pollution episode caused deaths She also goes into the Killer Smog of London and the obstacles to get cleaner air Always the corporation and their pursuit of money and the health of the populace Very good, well researched book to be used for my Env Sci class I highlighted many parts and will use them to get the air pollution material and the importance of it across to the APES students Princess cruise Dover to NYC. A little hard to get through, but very informative Really a must read to understand how much business can change perceptions hiding and covering up the truth. I read most of this for my AP Environmental class and it was an okay read It wasn t the most exciting and the chapters were long and dragged it but it would have probable been better had I read it on my own and not forced to. A good reminder of all of the scientific, social, and political facts and forces that restrict environmental research told through various detailed case study When government officials seek to regulate a risky substance, there is a common pattern of corporate resistance foster doubts about the science, predict economic doom if the regulation is adopted, and delay, delay, delay It s the playbook used most notoriously by the tobacco industry, but it had been used before and since , as Devra Davis recounts in When Smoke Ran Like Water A leading epidemiologist, Davis provides the fascinating history of battles to protect public health and of the researchers who sounded the alarm.The first major battle between the chemical industry and public health was over lead Tetraethyl lead was an additive to gasoline and to paint since early in the twentieth century Though some experts early on predicted harm to health from burning lead in exhaust fumes, corporate executives assured the public that such concerns were unfounded In the 1940s, the lead industry sued a Harvard pediatrician trying to suppress his findings of harm to children who ate lead paint chips.When the EPA proposed phasing lead out of gasoline in 1973, the Ethyl Corporation, the main lead producer, vigorously opposed the ban in a debate that lasted until 1985 Leaded gasoline was still sold until 1995 The industry produced scientists who argued the harm from particulate lead was unproven But Herbert Needlemann, a toxicologist at Harvard, found profound harm from lead His research revealed that young children, mostly Caucasian, who had higher lead levels as toddlers, had IQs nearly four points lower at age ten Scientists with ties to the lead industry formally accused Needleman of committing misconduct in the study He spent than ten years and thousands of dollars facing repeated challenges Needleman later wrote, If my case illustrates anything, it shows that the federal investigatory process can be rather easily exploited by commercial interests to cloud the consensus about a toxicant s dangers, can slow the regulatory process, can damage an investigator s credibility, and keep him tied up almost to the exclusion of any scientific output for long stretches of time while defending himself Studies in the 1960s and early 70s found that people living in cities with the dirtiest air had the highest risk of dying Though this link may seem obvious now, it was highly controversial at the time Lester Lave was the pioneering researcher in this field His work was roundly criticized by professors hired by the auto industry to do so Science does not reward those who take on controversy, at least not while they ae alive, Davis writes When the Clean Air Act told the auto industry it needed to reduce harmful exhaust emissions, industry executives predicted bankruptcy if they had to meet emission standards, which Japanese manufacturers had already met In 1973, for example, Lee Iacocca warned that we could be just around the corner from a complete shutdown of the U.S auto industry due to the new regulations A year later, Iacocca changed his tune, saying his company could comply, but needed time to do so.Chlorofluorocarbons CFCs are a type of gas that was widely used in coolants and solvents In 1974, scientists Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina first warned that CFC emissions were destroying the earth s ozone layer, exposing humanity to higher risks of skin cancer The warnings were dismissed as unreliable by the CFC industry That industry attitude was embraced by Reagan s EPA administrator, Ann Gorsuch, whose son became a Supreme Court justice in 2017 Though subsequent research confirmed the initial findings, the Chemical Manufacturers Association insisted that long range studies were necessary before regulations should be enacted.There was little action until Margaret Thatcher, an inveterate critic of environmentalism, did an about face on CFCs and supported a ban Her leadership led to a global treaty in 1987 called the Montreal Protocol under which all nations agreed to a timetable to phase out CFC production Rowlands and Molina won the Nobel Prize in 1995 for their work on CFCs It probably didn t hurt that British firms had already developed an alternative to CFCs, and charged 20 times.Davis spells out the obvious, namely that delays mean exposure and deaths than would ve occurred by a expeditious process Reasonable people can disagree about the standard of proof required before restrictions are enacted How much risk to public health is an acceptable tradeoff for an industry s growth The chemical industry contends that just because exposure of animals to certain chemicals causes cancer, that s not reason enough to regard the agent as a threat to humans Animals are, after all, different from us On the other hand, Davis writes, everything proven to cause cancer in humans has been shown to do so in animals We are surely different but we may not be different enough It s preferable for public health research to prevent damage, not to confirm later on that harm has happened But the real scientific difficulties in the field of epidemiology have been complicated by a stream of disinformation fueled by the short term economic interests of those who stand to profit from keeping matters unresolved The costs of reducing pollution, contends Davis, should be weighed against the benefits to public health If we always insist we should do nothing until the damage is absolutely certain, then the only certainty is that we will cut short millions of lives and bring misery to millions of others What s happening today when it comes to the climate change debate is the same clouding the consensus about a toxicant s dangers that Professor Needleman encountered Waiting for certain proof about climate change constitutes a doomsday experiment Davis advocates a carbon tax to speed the transition to cleaner fuels, since people respond to prices.Avoidable exposures to hazardous chemicals can cause cancer, other afflictions and death Davis asks readers a trenchant question Would you err on the side of overcontrolling a safe agent or on the side of undercontrolling a hazardous one If you re interested in the political relationship between science and public health in the US, this book is for you I thoroughly enjoyed this book cover to cover, and Devra Davis is now one of my personal heroes Some types of scientific advances, such as new technology for your smartphone, are easily gobbled up by the public Others, such as scientific evidence regarding environmental toxins, are a lot harder for the public and the government to swallow This book is about human experience of environmental health, and the colossal effort it takes to enact change in government bodies Devra mostly talks about industrial air pollution, and also includes an interesting history on the way that legislation and beliefs about tobacco smoke has changed over time However, this book is not only for people who are interested in air pollution The lessons and stories will inspire anyone interested in any type of environmental health, the process of making large scale change in society, and the frustrating task of getting people to believe in science.The autobiographical details add to the narrative in a way that makes this non fiction book truly engaging This is not a story from some objective outsider s perspective, it is the story of a woman who lives her life by fighting unrelentlessly for what she believes in.
When Smoke Ran Like Water, which begins with the tale of the Donora Smog of 1948, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002 Davis s second book,
- 352 pages
- When Smoke Ran Like Water: Tales of Environmental Deception and the Battle Against Pollution
- Devra Davis
- 19 March 2019 Devra Davis