Air pollution, water contamination, persistent organic pollutants, pesticides, metals, and radiofrequencies are just some examples of environmental factors that have been linked to adverse health effects such as cancer, respiratory disease and reproductive problems. Environmental epidemiology studies the interaction of disease and these environmental determinants of disease at a population level. Whilst risks associated with environmental exposures are generally small, the exposed population, and hence the population burden of disease, may be large. To detect these small risks, it is therefore essential that related methods and their application are refined. In addition, there is increasing attention on environmental health issues from the public, government, and media, thus raising the profile of envrionmental epidemiology in preventive medicine.
This book describes the methods of environmental epidemiology, with emphasis on good practice. It outlines the basic principles of epidemiology and environmental health, and describes in more detail special environmental epidemiological designs that are rarely described in other textbooks. The principles of health risk assessment and forecasting, as well as the application of study data in these types of study, are explored. Several chapters cover practical issues in the conduct of studies, such as field work and data analyses and its requirements. Ethical issues and the role of environmental epidemiology in policy making are also covered.
Reviewer:Patrick Thomas O'Shaughnessy, MS, PhD(University of Iowa College of Public Health)
Description:This book describes the application of epidemiological principles needed to discover associations between human health effects and exposure to environmental contaminants. With the use of interesting examples from the scientific literature, this very readable book covers the entire field of environmental epidemiology from the basic principles of epidemiology to an assessment of the societal and policy implications of results obtained from these studies.
Purpose:The editors have solicited the aid of an international group of distinguished epidemiologists for the purpose of combining in one book a description of pertinent epidemiological methods with a variety of examples of how those methods are applied to studies of the environmental effects on human health.
Audience:The editors assume that readers have taken at least an introductory course in epidemiology and therefore do not provide more than an overview of the principles taught in such a course. This book was therefore developed with the more advanced graduate student in mind, although it is written in such a way that it could be easily understood by any interested readers, such as biostatisticians, geneticists, toxicologists, and environmental health practitioners seeking to better understand the application of environmental epidemiological principles regardless of their background in epidemiology.
Features:The book is written in a narrative format with only essential equations and supporting tables and graphs interjected as needed. As such, readers are not given enough detail to properly analyze data obtained from an epidemiological investigation. Rather, a variety of topics such as measurement error, spatial epidemiology, study implementation, and risk assessment are described, which provide a thorough understanding of the many aspects of environmental epidemiology currently conducted by researchers around the world. These topics include the most recent issues under investigation such as molecular epidemiology and the use of geographical information systems (GIS) to better determine spatial associations between health effects and pollutant sources.
Assessment:Although I am not an epidemiologist, as a scientist interested in environmental health issues and the adverse health effects caused by air pollutants in particular, I found this book very interesting. Although this may not seem a detailed or profound statement, it is the ability of a book to maintain a reader's interest and thereby confer the knowledge it imparts that is the ultimate proof of its usefulness.