Human Health and the Environment as the Twentieth Century Ends
The relationship between human health and the physical environment is both obvious and obscure. It is obvious in the case of acute microbial agents or chemical toxins when symptoms occur soon after ingestion, inhalation, or absorption. It is obscure in the case of long-term effects of trace contaminants that produce no acute symptoms but are suspected of involvement in chronic disease by virtue of extrapolation from in vitro or in vivo laboratory studies or epidemiological investigations. It should not surprise us that scientists are not always in agreement as to the magnitude or even the nature of environmental risk (indeed, we cannot even agree definitively on whether the twentieth century ends on December 31, 1999 or on December 31, 2000). Nor should we be surprised that environmental standards and regulations are often deemed too strict by industry and conservatives while at the same time too lax by environmentalists and liberals.
KeywordsOzone Layer Tobacco Company Ozone Layer Depletion Acute Infectious Disease Chemical Toxin
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