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“Toxic Exposures” by Phil Brown Report

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Updated: May 2nd, 2022

The major premise/thesis of the book

The book is premised on the argument that the environmental pollution is a key contributor to the various illnesses that have had an increasing trend over the past few decades. The author aims at proving the theory that environmental pollution contributes greatly to the increase of the three main illnesses namely breast cancer, asthma, and Gulf War-related health conditions (Brown 76).

The author attributes environmental pollution to the lack of stringent legislations requiring firms to embrace the concept of corporate philanthropy and the adaptation of environment-friendly supply chain. In the last few decades, different nations around the world have experienced unparalleled population growth, which has led to unprecedented environmental pollution.

The greatest source of environmental pollution comes from the mushrooming of industries, which emit toxic gases into the atmosphere. These emissions are linked to what the author refers to as contested illnesses.

The evidence that the author presents to support the thesis

The author asserts that organized social movements play a key role in the fight against pollution by pressuring various regimes to enact legislations that criminalize the act. The book is based on environmental and medical sociology, environmental justice, environmental health science, and social movement studies.

Brown endeavors to show the effects of pollution to the health of the global population. The author presents his ideas systematically, and his probing seeks to establish the impact of the modern policies to health. Additionally, he explores ways in which scientific findings are publicized coupled with how the new policies have affected people, knowledge, power, and authority.

The author cites the various research works that he and other scholars have conducted to unravel the effects of pollution to the health of individuals. This aspect makes the reader believe the assertions made in the book since they are based on firsthand information derived from research.

Besides, Brown cites a few activist organizations including the BCA, as leaders in focusing on the environmental causes of breast cancer. He praises the BCA for its policy of not accepting funds from corporations that may create a real or apparent conflict of interest or whose practices endanger public health or may contribute to cancer incidences (Brown 102).

The author substantiates his school of thought by asserting that activist groups play a vital role in mobilizing firms to adopt a green supply chain to reduce the overall effects on the environment.

Additionally, he argues that in the past, the activist groups’ activities were derailed by the lack of enough knowledge regarding the link between environmental toxins and the contested illnesses. Moreover, he cites reluctance by manufacturing firms to adopt environment-friendly supply chains as a great hindrance to the efforts of the movements to counter the effect of the vice.

Assessing the author’s argument

The book centers on the environmental factors that elevate the effects of asthma, Gulf War-related illnesses, and breast cancer. The overall argument in the book is that the environment is to blame for the increase in the contested illnesses. The author focuses on three main illnesses that he classifies as contested illnesses, namely breast cancer, asthma, and Gulf War-related health conditions.

Basing his argument on the mentioned diseases, the author shows how health movements have emerged to respond to the growing need to mitigate them. Brown explores the evolution of activism by citing the various setbacks that such movements have faced when mobilizing support against environmental pollution by major industries across the world.

Is it convincing?

The argument presented in the book is convincing since the author uses real life examples to substantiate his major assertions. Additionally, the author explores pressure by lobby groups to enact legislations that prevent air pollution. He cites the various events involving harassments of such groups, thus convincing the reader about the reality of the explored theme. Therefore, based on the extensive research that the author undertakes to compile the book, his arguments are credible and convincing.

Is this a topic, which criminologists need to be concerned?

Criminology refers to a scientific field that studies crimes, their causes, and their overall impact on society. Various countries in the world are working on implementing legislations aimed at criminalizing environmental pollution due to its adverse effects on the health of the global population.

The book shows pollution as a major predisposing factor to the contested illnesses. Therefore, firms need to be held responsible for the adverse effects that their activities have on the population. Therefore, criminologists would find the book important since it analyzes environmental pollution and classifies it as a crime.

Breast cancer activists base their new paradigm on the precautionary principle, which requires shifting the burden of proof of harm from the people exposed to environmental contaminants to the industries that produce them. The indication of harm, as opposed to the proof of harm, guides those who follow this principle. Shifting the burden of proof involves a change in legislations, and thus criminologists would be interested in the book.

Would you recommend the book to Friends, relatives, and other criminologist students?

This book is to be underlined, mulled over, reread, and kept nearby for quick reference. It will validate one’s intuitive sense that something is wrong and that people must initiate change to counter environmental pollution. Knowledge regarding the contested diseases is important to every individual hence the book may be a useful resource for increasing such knowledge among the society. The book breaks down the three diseases and explains the environmental factors associated with their increase.

The book further breaks down the setbacks that activists have encountered when mobilizing firms to embrace the concept of corporate philanthropy to avoid pollution. The author analyzes the connection between the environment and the diseases, and this information is essential to friends and relatives.

Additionally, the book touches on pollution, which is a criminal offense. Therefore, the information is essential to criminologist students. As the environmental health movement comes of age, everyone needs to be aware of the controversies surrounding the environment pollution and the challenges it presents to the peoples’ health. Therefore, I would recommend the book to anyone who needs to learn more about the connection between exposure to industrial toxins and individuals’ health.

Biography of the author

Phil Brown is a Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies. He has been a tutor at the Brown University since 1979. Additionally, he has written various books on the field of sociology. The author is credited as one of the founders of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Science and an Associate Member of the Program in Judaic Studies. He has conducted numerous research works on the environment from which he bases his writings.

His recent books include Illness and the Environment: A Reader in Contested Medicine, Catskill Culture: A Mountain Rat’s Memories of the Great Jewish Resort Area, In the Catskills: A Century of the Jewish Experience in ‘The Mountains, and Social Movements in Health. His most recent book is Toxic Exposures: Contested Illnesses and the Environmental Health Movement.

He directs the Contested Illnesses Research Group, the Community Outreach Core of Brown’s Superfund Research Program, and the Community Outreach and Translation Core of the Brown Children’s Environmental Health Center. He is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Health Sciences and a director of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI).

Does knowing more about the author influence your opinion?

Knowing about the author changed my view regarding the work. I noticed that the author is a sociologist who has written a myriad of books that substantiate the connection between the environment and various illnesses. Being a degree holder in the field of sociology and environmental science, the author has great knowledge on the environment as he has conducted numerous research works on the matter discussed in his book.

Knowing this information changed my opinion about the link between pollution and people’s health status. Initially, I thought environmental pollution had minimal effects on the people’s health. After going through the author’s biography, I was convinced that the information presented in the book is factual since it is based on research conducted by Brown as a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute. Given that I believe in Brown’s findings in the book, I acknowledge that pollution affects human health adversely.

Works Cited

Brown, Phil. Toxic exposures: contested illnesses and the environmental health movement, New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. Print.

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