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Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation…
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Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation (original 2013; edição 2015)

por Dan Fagin (Autor)

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3033165,459 (4.15)73
Recounts the decades-long saga of the New Jersey seaside town plagued by childhood cancers caused by air and water pollution due to the indiscriminate dumping of toxic chemicals.
Título:Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation
Autores:Dan Fagin (Autor)
Informação:Island Press (2015), Edition: Reprint, 576 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Etiquetas:borrowed, April 2021

Pormenores da obra

Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation por Dan Fagin (2013)

  1. 00
    The Demon under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug por Thomas Hager (sweetbug)
    sweetbug: The Demon Under the Microscope traces the history of the development of antibiotics. It tells the stories of many scientific discoveries and their connections to events in European history through WWII. Toms River is a more modern take on the same type of story, tracing the history of dye manufacturing and its connection to an epidemic of childhood cancer cases in a small town in New Jersey. Both are written as great stories, with lots of details on the lives of the people (doctors, patients, families and community members) involved.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 31 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Research and Stories Combine to Tell a Tragic Story

"Toms River" details an appalling, decades-long horror story of business and government gone wrong. The town, Toms River, New Jersey, is home to a Swiss chemical firm's manufacturing and testing facility. The firm, Ciba-Geigy, is an out-of-control polluter that is enabled by uncaring government watchdogs and greedy politicians.

Within the book are several themes: 1) an impeccably researched history of Toms River with contemporary and current interviews, 2) a history of environmental management in industry, and 3) a history of cancer and the research involved in the disease. Each chapter mixes several of these themes, creating a very coherent narrative that concentrates on the New Jersey town in the second half of the 1900s.

As part of the history of the town, Fagin has found heartbreaking stories about various forms of rare cancer that have been prevalent there. The stories are moving in their tragedy. I've never considered myself much of an environmentalist, but after reading "Toms River," it's clear why people need environmental protections. The lesson is obvious: when governments allow polluters to run amok, real people will suffer the consequences.

The research is excellent. Fagin includes plenty of sources along with copious footnotes, which are not necessary to the understanding of the book, but provide detailed information for anyone looking for more. Fagin has done current interviews with many of the key figures involved in the Toms River debacle, including housewives, midnight chemical dumpers, plant managers, Greenpeace activists, union members, nurses, politicians, and cancer survivors. In addition, he reaches centuries back in order to tell the reader about the progress, or lack-thereof, in industry and medicine.

The only knock against this book is more of a knock against myself. I am not particularly interested in some of the science behind chemical pollution. Fagin does not dwell on it too much, but it was enough to make the book a little less quick than what I am used to.

This book is well worth a read for anyone interested in environmental science, cancer, town histories, and the relationship between industry and politics. ( )
  mvblair | Aug 9, 2020 |
The author has taken a complicated tangle of details and turned it into a readable, compelling story of a town's unwitting complicity in polluting its own water table. The early parts of the book are full of town history and memorable characters. The middle chapters read like a thriller, keeping us wondering if the truth will come out and the bad guys get punished. The last quarter of the book tries to explain the challenges of epidemiology studies based on smaller populations. This sad story also foretells the potential disasters that will inevitably rock China, where much of the chemical industry moved following the Tom's River fiasco. ( )
  LaurelPoe | Dec 25, 2017 |
A story of science and salvation
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
Toms River is non-fiction that reads like a novel. It straddles several genres – journalism, history, science – in its account of a near epidemic of cancer in the children of Toms River, New Jersey, a prominent Superfund clean-up site. There’s lots of information about the town, pollutants, affected families and the eventual clean-up and settlement but it never bogs down. There’s just enough scientific terminology to explain the link between exposure and disease. What really stands out in this book are the affected families and their battles with both the companies responsible for the contamination and the government agencies responsible for the safety of their town’s water and air. I’m not surprised this won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction for 2014.

I received this book for free through the Goodreads First Reads program.
( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
Fagin's subtitle is a little misleading: In the end, there was no salvation for the families of Toms River, N.J., who suspected but ultimately were unable to prove without a doubt that environmental pollution from two large chemical manufacturers were responsible for a cluster of childhood cancers in their town. But science there is plenty, as Fagin painstakingly explores the evolution of our understanding of health hazards caused by exposure to chemicals and other environmental toxins.

To explain the issues involved, Fagin moves back and forth across the centuries to trace the evolution both of the study of what causes disease and the discovery and development of man-made dyes extracted from coal tar and other noxious substances, all of which required copious amounts of extremely dangerous chemicals to separate the gooey sludge into its component elements that could then be processed into dyes and plastics. From the standpoint of the 21st century it is horrifying to read how cavalierly these early chemical manufacturers treated the toxic waste that their manufacturing processes produced, generally dumping it into the nearest river or pouring it out on the ground. The problem, of course, was that no one knew the health hazards of exposure to these chemicals and even fewer people cared. And as the science improved, and the toxic implications became more clear, the drive for profits invariably triumphed over hazard mitigation.

I went into this book expecting to learn more about a big bad evildoer. But what I learned is that there was no one big evil entity in Toms River; rather, there were a whole lot of smaller evils working together to protect their own interests at a tragic cost to the citizens of Toms River. Sure, the two chemical companies who dumped most of the hazardous waste were to blame, but so was the local water utility, who conspired with the polluters to cover up proven contamination of the town's water supply because they worried about being able to meet the city's demands for water if they shut down the affected wells. And the local, state, and federal regulatory agencies who were meant to ensure that industry complied with safe disposal requirements were unwilling and unable to enforce their own rules, generally choosing to impose token fines or no punishment at all even when a company was caught polluting red-handed. And the people of Toms River bear some responsibility themselves: There were signs of potential problems with pollution but city officials looked the other way. They and the workers themselves were unwilling to risk angering the area's largest private employer, where blue-collar jobs were plentiful and paid good wages.

In the end, the catalyst to force local and state regulators to take seriously the existence of a cluster of childhood cancers caused by environmental pollution was a woman whose son was born with brain cancer (I honestly had no idea such a thing was even possible, and I found it a horrifying thing to contemplate). She gradually became convinced that her son and many other children had been hurt by contaminated water, and she gathered together the parents of other cancer-stricken children to demand answers.

Unfortunately, even once the forces of epidemiology were unleashed, answers were thin on the ground. Even after years and years and millions of dollars spent on water testing, case studies, and testing of potential carcinogens in animal studies, science ultimately could not prove that contaminated water caused the cluster of childhood cancers in Toms River. It was a frustrating conclusion, but Fagin did an excellent job of showing just how limited the science is into what causes cancer, and how hard it is to detect clusters of cancer in residential areas, even now in the 2010s. Fagin is careful to present the research results without bias, which makes it clear that while there was almost certainly a correlation between exposure to the tainted water supply and childhood cancer, no test or study was ever able to create a definitive causal link.

Fagin covers a lot of ground in this book, and sometimes the science and jumping back and forth in time got a bit mind-boggling, but overall I found it clearly presented and well-written for non-expert readers like me. I learned a lot, very little of it reassuring in terms of the state of our understanding of the dangers of chemical contamination or our ability to prevent the next pollution-caused health hazard. ( )
1 vote rosalita | Jun 27, 2016 |
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"..surely a new classic of science reporting"
adicionada por Stbalbach | editarNew York Times, Abigail Zuger (Mar 18, 2013)
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Recounts the decades-long saga of the New Jersey seaside town plagued by childhood cancers caused by air and water pollution due to the indiscriminate dumping of toxic chemicals.

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