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Cold, Clear, and Deadly: Unraveling a Toxic Legacy (Dave Dempsey Environmental Studies) Hardcover – May 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Dave Dempsey Environmental Studies
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Michigan State University Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870138022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870138027
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,836,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"If the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes ever found himself searching 'for an honest man' on the shores of the Great Lakes, he need look no further than Mel Visser in his intrepid and relentless quest for the truth behind toxic contamination, its causes and its consequences. From Lake Superior to the Arctic Circle, and back again, Visser brings his impressive scientific knowledge and moral integrity to the search for answers to difficult questions which vexpolicy makers across the globe." -- G.Tracy Mehan, III, former Assistant Administrator for Water, U.S. EPA, and director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes.

From the Publisher

The powerful story of a scientific search for the source of chemicals that continue to poison our air and water.

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Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Henry Berry on May 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Upon early retirement from the UpJohn Company, Visser undertook an investigation which was like solving a mystery to find out how persistent organic pollutants--POPs--were getting into the colder waters of the earth from the Great Lakes to the Arctic Ocean. The POPs, at first though to be harmless, were becoming so prevalent and toxic that blubber from some Arctic Ocean whales would classify as hazardous waste. Visser had the necessary scientific background for this investigation. The long stretch of his career at Upjohn where he had responsibility for environmental compliance and remediation gave him knowledge of "process research" and "training in the behavior of chemicals" he would need. "The refusal of banned chemicals to leave Lake Superior" became a perplexing question to him during his last years with Upjohn. Noting that the answer to the question of POPs in Lake Superior and other bodies of water "unfolded like a mystery novel, with chemicals as characters," Visser writes a first-person tale with the novelistic techniques of dialogue, action, scenes, and short paragraphs. The compelling environmental story in a popular style makes the book a model for others on environmental issues which are matters of growing public concern.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven Huyser Honig on November 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read Mel Visser's intriguing book, COLD, CLEAR, AND DEADLY, twice before writing this review. The main reason for the extra diligence was that I really wasn't quite sure what to make of the book. If I was puzzled by the first reading, I'd have to say I was fascinated on the second. This book really is the closest thing you can get to an environmental page-turner.

In fact, in his introduction Mel describes the book as a "mystery novel, with chemicals as the characters." That's a pretty good description but I'd also add that Mel casts himself as the sleuth, a loveable rogue who fits well in the tradition of dime store detective novels.

COLD, CLEAR AND DEADLY, is a personal account, a memoir really, of Mel's dawning awareness of the effects of POPs on the environment and his dogged determination to find their source. His awareness develops in the first half of the book as he attends a series of environmental meetings, symposia, colloquia--you get the picture. Potentially dry stuff this, but here's where Mel's personality really shines giving a unique insider, behind the scenes, view that I found quite engaging.

The second half of the book documents Mel's post-retirement investigations and growing commitment to a ban on POPs. He becomes convinced that the primary source of POPs in the environment is their continued use in the developing world and their global transport in the atmosphere. His research takes him on two trips to the arctic. At times his accounts have a travelogue quality, but his description of the horrific exposure of the Inuit to POPs in their traditional diet is riveting, and sure to make you share his outrage.

Fittingly, Mel finishes the book with a call to action. I, for one, wish him every success.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda Belote on March 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We who live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan can often be caught bragging about how clear and clean our beautiful Lake Superior is. Clear, yes, but not so clean, says author chemist Melvin Visser. He alerts the world (or those who care about healthy safe water) to the presence of toxaphene and chlordane in the cold northern waters--it's even worse in the arctic--in a straight-forward language we lay people can understand. He explains how these get in our water, and what the dangers are. Cold, Clear and Deadly: Unraveling a Toxic Legacy (Dave Dempsey Environmental Studies)
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Format: Hardcover
As a long time resident of northern Alaska and more recently a resident and guide in the Lake Superior Basin, I read with alarm "Cold, Clear and Deadly." As author and scientist Mel Visser narrates his life's quest to find out why northern waters aquatic life are still filled with deadly Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Visser found that in spite of the banning of POPs throughout North America these hazardous banned pesticides are still used in developing nations. The toxins, in molecular form become transported by winds in the troposphere world-wide.

Mel Visser writes in a non-technical way that is understandable to most people. His "Global Transport" section of the book, in which the reader views a POP molecule's journey globally from India to the Arctic illustrates clearly to the layperson how toxins are transported around the world. North American air is contaminated with more than 100 million POPs molecules in every human breath! The northern waters absorb the airborne pollutants and they get concentrated as they move up the food chain from simple organisms to more complex ones. The health and reproductive problems to wildlife at the top of the food chain as well as humans who consume the wildlife is alarming.

Visser was a chemical industry insider who worked for a Michigan pharmaceutical company as a chemical engineer for 20 years, then 16 years as head of the company's environmental compliance division.
An affinity for wild Lake Superior seemed to make Visser an industry scientist with a conscience.

"Cold, Clear and Deadly" does an excellent job of showing the growing danger to the planet of man-produced toxins. Visser writes to not just inform but to rouse the reader to action in telling others, including politicians about the growing danger to all life on earth.
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