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Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA Hardcover – April 8, 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Two outstanding environmental writers team up to tell the excoriating story of catastrophic collusion between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the chemical industry. Vallianatos worked for the EPA from 1979 to 2004 and witnessed the systematic undermining of the agency’s mission to set standards for environmental and health safety by major chemical manufacturers whose ruthless lobbying strategies were as insidious as the ecologically disastrous pesticides they aggressively promoted and brazenly misused. The title of this jaw-dropping exposé is a riff on Rachel Carson’s 1963 landmark protest of the use of DDT, Silent Spring. The carefully documented crimes and betrayals Poison Spring reveals unfold on two fronts. Most alarming are the harrowing facts about the thousands of deadly synthetic chemicals that have for decades been released into the biosphere and which we continually absorb, from dioxin to agrochemical nerve gas to the weed killer Roundup. Vallianatos and Jenkins explain the science behind these poisons and their many dire effects, from cancer to the death of honeybee colonies. Equally appalling is the silencing of heroic EPA whistle-­blowers, fraudulent scientific studies, and the hijacking of the democratic process. In this riveting indictment, Vallianatos and Jenkins valiantly divulge the blinding greed and unfathomable stupidity behind these unconscionable lies and travesties—assaults against the very fabric of life. A resounding call for genuine and sustained environmental responsibility. --Donna Seaman

Review

“Makes a solid, damning case against putting political appointees in charge of a regulatory agency, as well as corporate claims about product safety. Poison Spring is Vallianatos' call to arms, urging American consumers to hold their government accountable for policies that protect and reward polluters.” ―Associated Press

“An alarming, comprehensive account of a 'fatally compromised' EPA mission crippled by bad enforcement practices and numerous corrupting influences.” ―Publishers Weekly, (starred review)

“In this riveting indictment, Vallianatos and Jenkins valiantly divulge the blinding greed and unfathomable stupidity behind the unconscionable lies and travesties―assaults against the very fabric of life. A resounding call for genuine and sustained environmental responsibility.” ―Booklist, starred review

“Like biologist Rachel Carson, Vallianatos, former staff scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Jenkins sound the alarm about toxins in common use…An indictment that implicates pesticides in wildlife and livestock die-offs, as well as in human maladies and deaths.” ―Library Journal

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; First Edition edition (April 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608199142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608199143
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Wineberg TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It's Big Tobacco all over again, but this time in pesticides and herbicides. Science doesn't matter. Deaths don't matter. Laws don't matter. Nothing is allowed to stand in the way of Big Chem. We now use more than five billion pounds of pesticides a year in the USA. So the plan is working. Yet losses from insects, which would stand at 41% of the crop if we used no chemicals at all, instead stand at 37%. But of course with that comes pollution, disease, and shrinking biodiversity. So it's not even beneficial, is one of Vallianatos' many points in Poison Spring. Only between .0000001% and .003% of pesticides actually reach their target insects. The rest goes into the air, soil and water to kill everything else.

Like the pill culture in medicine, Big Chem has us using insecticides when simple crop rotation would do. (In 1954, before the chemical supermarket, we became smart enough to hold losses from insects to 10%.) When one doesn't work well, we try another, and the bigger the farm, the more insecticide per acre, year in year out. This is blind reductionism - "There is a tragic lack of holistic thinking in the agriculture establishment."

Having spent 25 years at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Vallianatos is telling all. How the agency is there specifically and only to accommodate Big Chem, with which it always sides against consumers, farmers, and its own scientists. How EPA scientists who try to do real science are transferred out, hounded out, or fired. How the government continually cuts EPA back, to the point of requiring it to shut down labs and actually destroy all the documentation in them. How industry provides EPA's data, edits its documents, and cripples its regulations, when they don't ignore them outright.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Vallianatos has the expertise, knowledge and experience, to be in a unique place that allows him to write this very well researched book that tells is like it is. He rings the warning bell as he exposes practices that have been going on for too long unchecked and he does not mince his words when it comes to indicating where blame lies. This book could be an instrument of change, if it is read by many people thus creating an awakening by setting the record straight and laying down the bare facts. A must read for anyone who is concerned about the environment, and the quality of human life on Earth.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a vivid detailed picture of what happens when a federal agency designated to protect the US public health from pollution and toxic chemicals comes under the control of the regulated companies. This is also a book that gives a full accounting of 25 years of observation and confirmation of the toxic damages done to the American people from chemicals, pesticides, insecticides, and other toxins with the approval of the US Environmental Protection Agency. The author discusses fraudulent scientific studies produced by industries and promoted by the EPA as proof of safety. The book also implicates Congress, the Senate, and the White House as protectors of industry at the expense of human health. Scientists now know that children's IQ is dropping because of exposure to chemicals used every day by Americans; in the home, at work, at school, and at play--all approved without proof of human safety. This book should be required reading for everyone in government as well as all parents and physicians. The rise in chronic disease in adults and children can be directly linked to the billions of pounds of chemicals in our environment. The Administrator of the EPA should purchase enough "Poison Spring" books to give to every EPA employee which will shame them and hopefully change some methods of pesticide and chemical approval by using only legitimate scientific evaluation of the risks to human health---and not accepting what industry says as the truth and nothing but the truth!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderful book that tells all and makes you wonder if there is anything safe to eat anymore, thanks to the greed of industries. Our government is sure a big wimp when it comes to regulation, we live at the whim of greedy corporations.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everyone needs to read this book, especially scientists at the EPA. We need more transparency, accountability and turnover in these departments. Further, we need to change the payment model such that industry is not routinely paying the EP to pass judgment on its product. That sets up a tacit quid pro quo. We also need to vet those who work there before they're hired. Do these scientists care about protecting environmental and pubic heath? Is it a passion for them? DO they feel a civic responsibility in this regard? If not, don't hire them for this post. This isn't the "CPA"-Corporate Protection Agency. It's the ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency. Protecting the environment, not safeguarding industry interests, is it mandate. In theory, I understand the concept of 'reasonability" in setting environmental regulations, but the way this "reasonableness has been demonstrated is gross rationalization and look-the-other-way, rubber stamping of anything industry wants to do. There are sufficient examples of well-documented malfeasance in this book to foment a change in the status quo. Will that happen? No. Because the decades-long runs of top Administrators at the EPA have basically made it their mission to ensure that no regulations are ever meaningfully enforced.
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