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Andrew Meharg

Venomous earth

This book starts with a look at the scandal of arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh in which tubewells put in with the help of oveerseas aid delivered water with high levels of arsenic to the population. We then find out about the occurence and use of arsenic throughout the ages - well known as a poison, but also taken for supposed health benefits. In fact poisoners have got let off by claiming that the victim was taking arsenic voluntarily. There's also arsenic on wallpaper and even in food colouring! A depressing subject maybe, but an entertaining read for anyone, in particular those wanting to put the risks we face today into context.

So how was the delivery of arsenical water in Bangladesh, which will probably result in hundreds of thousands of deaths, allowed to happen. Was it a case of severe negligence by the aid agencies, or was it a risk that had to be balanced with that of bacteria laden water? The fact is that even in richer countries there has been a puzzling acceptance of this arsenic in our environment. The accepted level in the USA was 50 parts per billion until recently, which has probably led to thousands of deaths. Even that early environmental campaigner William Morris of the Arts and Crafts movement is shown to have conisderable responsibility for the use of this poison. info
Hardcover 208 pages  
ISBN: 1403944997
Salesrank: 4024141
Published: 2004 Palgrave Macmillan
Amazon price $14.45
Marketplace:New from $5.00:Used from $1.28
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Hardcover 212 pages  
ISBN: 1403944997
Salesrank: 1822559
Weight:0.71 lbs
Published: 2016 Palgrave Macmillan
Amazon price £4.84
Marketplace:New from £3.53:Used from £0.01
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Hardcover 208 pages  
ISBN: 1403944997
Salesrank: 4780486
Weight:0.71 lbs
Published: 2005 Palgrave Macmillan
Amazon price CDN$ 26.67
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 22.18:Used from CDN$ 1.19
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Product Description
Venomous Earth is the compelling story of the worst chemical disaster in human history - unfolding now. It explores the geology, politics and biology of why tens thousands of people are dying, hundreds of thousands developing cancer and tens of millions of people are at risk in Bangladesh, India and beyond, from arsenic-contaminated well water.

Andrew Meharg compares this scenario with that in other areas of the world where drinking water is tainted with arsenic, such as extensive areas of South Western USA, the Alto Plano of South America and New Zealand's volcanic regions. He details historical precedents spanning thousands of years in mining and smelting communities, and due to the widespread use of arsenic in alchemy, farming, medicine and manufacturing. His tale takes in William Morris, Paracelsus, George W Bush and a cosmetic that killed two popes.

Finally Venomous Earth looks at how the current arsenic crisis is to be tackled and highlights new challenges to our ongoing struggle with the toxic element.