Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology
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Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology

The Science of Pollution, Fifth Edition

Michael C. Newman

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eBook - ePub

Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology

The Science of Pollution, Fifth Edition

Michael C. Newman

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About This Book

This new edition is revised throughout and includes new and expanded information on natural resource damage assessment, the latest emerging contaminants and issues, and adds new international coverage, including case studies and rules and regulations. The text details key environmental contaminants, explores their fates in the biosphere, and discusses bioaccumulation and the effects of contaminants at increasing levels of ecological organization. Vignettes written by experts illustrate key themes or highlight especially pertinent examples. This edition offers an instructors' solution manual, PowerPoint slides, and supplemental images.


  • Adds all new discussions of natural resource damage assessment concepts and approaches

  • Includes new vignettes written by leading guest authors

  • Draws on materials from 2, 500 cited sources, including 400+ new to this edition

  • Adds numerous new entries to a useful glossary of 800+ terms

  • Includes a new appendix discussing Brazilian environmental laws and regulations added to existing appendices outlining U.S., E.U., Chinese, Australian, and Indian environmental laws

Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology: The Science of Pollution, Fifth Edition contains a broad overview of ecotoxicology and provides a basic understanding of the field. Designed as a textbook for use in introductory graduate or upper-level undergraduate courses in ecotoxicology, applied ecology, environmental pollution, and environmental science, it can also be used as a general reference for practicing environmental toxicologists.

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CRC Press



1.1 Historic Need for Ecotoxicology

It is natural and responsible to periodically reconsider the wisdom of our evermore complex and encompassing system of environmental regulations. Do United Nations treaties and European Union directives encroach too much on the sovereignty of nations? Have environmental regulations grown too costly for developed countries or too stifling for developing countries? It may be difficult at first glance to understand why national sovereignty should not be more respected or why significant amounts of the money now spent on environmental regulation should not reallocated to the critical social problems, medical research, technological innovation, education, space exploration, or other worthwhile endeavors, e.g., Lomborg (2001). Just sixty years ago, it was easy to understand: Tomoko Uemura’s mother understood.
Tomoko Uemura was born with severe and permanent neurological damage after her mother had unknowingly consumed mercury-laden fish. Tomoko was barely aware of her surroundings during her painful twenty-one years of life. Although Tomoko’s mother grew to understand the consequences of inattention to pollution, what she could not grasp as her personal tragedy unfolded was how the conditions leading to her daughter’s agonizing life were allowed to come into existence in the first place.
Explanation of Tomoko’s, and related, tragedies begins with events that emerged a little more than half a century before she was born. At the close of the nineteenth century, complex changes were occurring unevenly across many countries. All grew out of the unprecedented shifts in human population size and distribution, and our singular talent for extracting resources and energy from the environment. This was a time of shortsighted exploitation of natural resources and cavalier attitudes toward worker health. Population expansion brought widespread land and soil degradation through farming, foresting, mining, smelting, and other activities (Newman, 2018). With expansion that filled all available frontier regions such as in the U.S. west, the option was no longer open to move to an unsullied area after despoiling local natural resources. Widespread degradation made the development of a sound knowledge base and responsible environmental stewardship of the environment essential.
Cities grew to sizes never seen before in history. In addition to the infectious disease risks that emerged as large cities came into existence, urban air pollution-associated health risks appeared. Air pollution became one of the first blatant pollution problems requiring attention. As the twentieth century unfolded, coal burning was pervasive for industrial and domestic heating purposes. A classic consequence was the December 1952 London “fog” episode that killed 4,000 Londoners outright (Anderson, 2009). Although this was an extreme event, appalling air pollution was being experienced in other cities including those in Europe, North America, and Asia. Large cities improved air quality temporarily by switching from coal to oil; however, the appearance of automobiles brought unhealthy air pollution back in the form of photochemical smog (McNeill, 2000). To this day, smog and fine particulates from automobiles remain major health concerns in cities (Figure 1.1).
Figure 1.1 Masked cyclists and pedestrians of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2010). Masks are worn to reduce exposure to harmful aerosols and smog produced by heavy traffic. (Photographs by M.C. Newman.)
Industries contributed substantially to urban air pollution. Indeed, the term, acid rain, was first used in 1872 by Angus Smith who identified it as the cause of extensive vegetation death around industrialized Newcastle and Liverpool, U.K. (Markham, 1995). A 1930 air pollution episode precipitated by a brief atmospheric inversion over an industrialized Belgian town in Meuse Valley increased deaths rates ten-fold and sickened citizens with histories of respiratory illness (Anderson, 2009). This scenario played out yet again in Donora, Pennsylvania (U.S.) when an October 1948 inversion held zinc smelter smoke close to the ground, increasing death rates by six-fold and sickening hundreds of residents.
Some of the first pieces of environmental pollution legislation (such as the U.K. Clean Air legislation of 1956 and 1963) were aimed at controlling health effects of air pollution in and around large cities and industries. In many cases, a local problem was resolved temporarily by building taller smoke stacks that spread pollutants over wider areas. Air pollutants became a problem for another day.
On a related front, the industrial hygiene movement emerged to address harmful chemicals in the work environment. As this movement matured into the 1930s, employers, employee representatives, scientists, and government officials came together to resolve workplace problems. This coming together of responsible and affected parties to address problems would eventually be adopted by those attempting to cope with pollutants in the general environment. An expectation of a safe work environment was eventually established and then expanded to include a safe general environment. As a final contributing social movement, awareness and political action emerged about harmful chemicals in foodstuffs and drugs. That movement established the expectation of safe foods and medicines and in 1906, resulted in the creation of a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
To summarize, concepts, approaches, and institutions appeared during the first half of the twentieth century for addressing pressing problems of natural resource conservation, urban air quality, industrial workplace hygiene, and harmful chemicals in food and drugs. The associated social evolution established an approach and ethic that would next extend outward to address harmful chemicals in the general environment. Environmental pollutants became a serious social issue to resolve during the second half of the twentieth century.
Blended into these historical demographic and industrial trends was the Green Revolution which, beginning in the 1940s, quickly spread throughout the world (Evenson and Gollin, 2003). The aim of this “revolution” was to improve crop production through the integrated application of high-yield crop strains, chemical fertilizers, and chemical biocides. Farm equipment that consumed fossil fuels also became critical components of the Green Revolution. Unique resource conservation, worker safety, food safety, and general pollution issues emerged with the Green Revolution as the second half of the twentieth century began.
An explanation can now be provided to Tomoko’s mother about conditions that allowed her daughter’s life to be so painful and brief. Tomoko was born just as society moved beyond the pale in its activities within the natural systems that it depended on. Society was becoming aware of its mistakes and realizing that it had new responsibilities to carefully regulate toxicants in the general environment. Too late for Tomoko, beliefs, behaviors, and laws were poised for necessary change regarding relationships between society and the environment.
After World War II, the dilution paradigm (the solution to pollution is dilution) was gradually replaced by the boomerang paradigm (what you throw away can come back to hurt you). Two widely publicized epidemics of heavy metal poisoning from contaminated food had occurred in Japan. By the 1950s, enough organic mercury had moved through the marine food web to poison hundreds of people in Minamata Prefecture. Nearly a thousand people, including Tomoko Uemura, fell victim to Minamata Disease before Chisso Corporation halted mercury discharge into Minamata Bay. In a major mining region of Japan (Toyama Prefecture), citizens were slowly being poisoned from 1940 to 1960 by cadmium in their rice. This outbreak of what became known as itai-itai disease was linked to irrigation water contaminated with mining wastes.*
In 1945, open air testing of nuclear weapons began at Alamogordo, New Mexico, and nuclear bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki later that same year. Nine years later, the Project Bravo bomb exploded at Bikini Atoll, dropping fallout over thousands of square kilometers of ocean including several islands and the ironically named fishing vessel, Lucky Dragon (Woodwell, 1967). The Marshall Islands of Ailinginae, Rongelap, and Rongerik received radiation levels of 300 to 3000 rem within four days of this detonation (Choppin and Rydberg, 1980).* Fourteen years later, Hempelmann (1968) would report an elevated prevalence of nodular thyroids in Marshallese children (78% of the 19 exposed children versus 0.36 to 1.7% of unexposed children) notionally resulting from the 1954 detonation.
At a broader scale, the hemispheric dispersal and unexpected accumulation of fission products in foodstuffs from these and subsequent detonations eventually created concern about possible health effects. Initially, fallout had elicited only brief comment such as the above snippet from the December 12, 1961 weather page of the Washington Post. But mere curiosity was quickly replaced by genuine concern as the public began reading more thoughtful articles such as the 1963 Washington Post front page exposé reporting “Persons living within 400 miles of the Nevada nuclear test site have been exposed during the last dozen years to far more radiation from radioactive iodine than hereto realized” (Simons, 1963). From 1960 to 1965, human body burdens of 137Cesium increased rapidly worldwide and then slowly decreased as the U.S., former Soviet Union, France, U.K., and China bo...

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Citation styles for Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology
APA 6 Citation
Newman, M. (2019). Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology (5th ed.). CRC Press. Retrieved from (Original work published 2019)
Chicago Citation
Newman, Michael. (2019) 2019. Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology. 5th ed. CRC Press.
Harvard Citation
Newman, M. (2019) Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology. 5th edn. CRC Press. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Newman, Michael. Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology. 5th ed. CRC Press, 2019. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.