In this engrossing and disquieting book, the author, who specializes in drinking water epidemiology, raises the alarm about hidden perils in our water. He traces the history of the search for water-borne pathogens from the mid-19th century, when doctors discovered the bacterium that causes cholera (the blue death), to the 20th century, when it was found that chlorination and filtration would block many of the organisms responsible for diseases such as typhoid fever, dysentery and cholera. But today, our water supply is far from safe. Some pathogens elude conventional filters; others are resistant to chlorine; and chlorinated drinking water may increase the risk of certain cancers. Climate change, emerging diseases, toxic chemicals, decaying pipes and terrorism also threaten our water. To dramatize his thesis, Morris describes devastating outbreaks of gastrointestinal disease, such as the one caused by a parasite in Milwaukee's drinking water that sickened 400,000 people in 1993. During the 19th century, doctors had to overcome opposition from those who refused to believe that diseases could be waterborne. Now, epidemiologists and researchers who advocate for tighter controls on drinking water must battle drinking water industry lobbyists who resist regulatory efforts. Morris argues persuasively that unless we do more to protect the water we drink, we court disaster.
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*Starred Review* As physician and outspoken public health expert Morris recounts, with crystal clarity, some of history's epic drinking water disasters, from the 1853 London cholera outbreak to the 1993 cryptosporidiosis outbreak that sickened some 4,000 Milwaukee residents, and how thousands were saved by improved water treatment, it's easy to be lulled into smug contentedness. After all, American water is protected by not just the Clean Water Act but also the Safe Drinking Water Act. Morris contends, however, that outdated and inadequate filtration, by means employing possibly carcinogenic chlorine, fails to remove thousands of potentially hazardous chemicals from public freshwater sources. Add that concern to a water-delivery infrastructure at or nearing the end of its design-life expectancy, and you have reason enough to shake off all science-has-saved-us complacency. Throw in the too-easily-downplayed threat of bioterrorism, and you may join in Morris' clarion call for a fiercely proactive torrent of new technology in addition to expensive, if unglamorous, infrastructure replacement. Morris put the words death, disease, and disaster in the book's title to warn readers that his no-holds-barred narrative isn't for the squeamish. Pass the vodka, please. Uh, no ice. Chavez, Donna --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Primarily a history of early epidemics and pioneers of microbiological disease. If you have already read enough on absurd 19th century theories of disease (miasmas of air/effluvia... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Catamaran'78
I love this book. It's got a way of giving boring information in more of a story form. It really makes one thing about water and our future too.Published 6 months ago by e. spiess
I am working in the water industry plant operations for thirty five years, and never really grasped the utmost importance of water treatment in such a way as presented in this... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Chicagoviews
this book came just in time for me to finish my research paper about our contaminated water...thanks so much for the great servicePublished 24 months ago by Andrea E. Gingrich
People need to be aware of how precious fresh, clean drinking water is. This is a very informative and interesting book.Published on April 11, 2013 by dorian
"The Blue Death: Disease, Disaster and the Water We Drink," by Dr. Robert D. Morris, Harper Collins, NY, 2007. In this 310-page hardback, epidemiologist Dr. Read morePublished on January 14, 2013 by Paul Eckler
Who knew that learning about the history of and critical current global issues surrounding clean drinking water could be a page-turner! A story well researched and well told.Published on January 7, 2013 by CAMJ
I am one of those people who takes for granted the water I drink. At least I did until I read "The Blue Death" by Robert D. Morris. Read morePublished on October 10, 2011 by Daniel Estes