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In 1941 the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of diethylstilbestrol (DES), the first synthetic chemical to be marketed as an estrogen and one of the first to be identified as a hormone disruptor—a chemical that mimics hormones. Although researchers knew that DES caused cancer and disrupted sexual development, doctors prescribed it for millions of women, initially for menopause and then for miscarriage, while farmers gave cattle the hormone to promote rapid weight gain. Its residues, and those of other chemicals, in the American food supply are changing the internal ecosystems of human, livestock, and wildlife bodies in increasingly troubling ways. In this gripping exploration, Nancy Langston shows how these chemicals have penetrated into every aspect of our bodies and ecosystems, yet the U.S. government has largely failed to regulate them and has skillfully manipulated scientific uncertainty to delay regulation. Personally affected by endocrine disruptors, Langston argues that the FDA needs to institute proper regulation of these commonly produced synthetic chemicals.
In this concise and engaging survey of more than 250 years of American environmental activism to protect the natural world and promote a healthy human society, historian Kevin Armitage tells the story of a magnificent American achievement—and the ongoing problems that environmentalism faces today.
The field of environmental history emerged just decades ago but has established itself as one of the most innovative and important new approaches to history, one that bridges the human and natural world, the humanities and the sciences. With the current trend towards internationalizing history, environmental history is perhaps the quintessential approach to studying subjects outside the nation-state model, with pollution, global warming, and other issues affecting the earth not stopping at national borders. With 25 essays, this Handbook is global in scope and innovative in organization, looking at the field thematically through such categories as climate, disease, oceans, the body, energy, consumerism, and international relations.
Environmental Justice in Contemporary US Narratives examines post-1929 US artistic interrogations of environmental disruption. Tracing themes of pollution, marine life, and agricultural production in the work of a number of historically significant writers including John Steinbeck, Ruth Ozeki, and Cherríe Moraga, this book outlines a series of incisive dialogues on transnational flows of capital and environmental justice. Texts ranging from The Grapes of Wrath (1939) to Body Toxic (2001) represent the body as vulnerable to a host of environmental risks. They identify "natural disasters" not just as environmental hazards and catastrophes, but also as events intertwined with socioeconomic issues. With careful textual analysis, Athanassakis shows how twentieth- and twenty-first-century US writers have sought to rethink traditional understandings of how the human being relates to ecological phenomena. Their work, and this study, offer new modes of creative engagement with environmental degradation – engagement that is proactive, ambivalent, and even playful. This book contributes to vital discussions about the importance of literature for social justice movements, food studies, ecocriticism, and the environmental humanities. The core argument of the book is that artistically imaginative narratives of environmental disturbance can help humans contend with ostensibly uncontrollable, drastic planetary changes.
Every person on the planet is entangled in a web of ecological relationships that link farms and factories with human consumers. Our lives depend on these relationships -- and are imperiled by them as well. Nowhere is this truer than on the Japanese archipelago. During the nineteenth century, Japan saw the rise of Homo sapiens industrialis, a new breed of human transformed by an engineered, industrialized, and poisonous environment. Toxins moved freely from mines, factory sites, and rice paddies into human bodies. Toxic Archipelago explores how toxic pollution works its way into porous human bodies and brings unimaginable pain to some of them. Brett Walker examines startling case studies of industrial toxins that know no boundaries: deaths from insecticide contaminations; poisonings from copper, zinc, and lead mining; congenital deformities from methylmercury factory effluents; and lung diseases from sulfur dioxide and asbestos. This powerful, probing book demonstrates how the Japanese archipelago has become industrialized over the last two hundred years -- and how people and the environment have suffered as a consequence.
Although suburb-building created major environmental problems, Christopher Sellers demonstrates that the environmental movement originated within suburbs--not just in response to unchecked urban sprawl. Drawn to the countryside as early as the late nineteenth century, new suburbanites turned to taming the wildness of their surroundings. They cultivated a fondness for the natural world around them, and in the decades that followed, they became sensitized to potential threats. Sellers shows how the philosophy, science, and emotions that catalyzed the environmental movement sprang directly from suburbanites' lives and their ideas about nature, as well as the unique ecology of the neighborhoods in which they dwelt. Sellers focuses on the spreading edges of New York and Los Angeles over the middle of the twentieth century to create an intimate portrait of what it was like to live amid suburban nature. As suburbanites learned about their land, became aware of pollution, and saw the forests shrinking around them, the vulnerability of both their bodies and their homes became apparent. Worries crossed lines of class and race and necessitated new ways of thinking and acting, Sellers argues, concluding that suburb-dwellers, through the knowledge and politics they forged, deserve much of the credit for inventing modern environmentalism.

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