Environmental Medicine

Ronald E. Gots, MD, PhD
JAMA. 1996;275(2):157-158. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530260071038.
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Environmental Medicine was an extraordinarily difficult book to compile, and the editors and authors carried out the task as well as could be done. If this sounds like mute praise, it is, because it is tempered by quandaries: what exactly is environmental medicine and will this nearly 800-page tome provide a valuable adjunct to a medical library?

Environmental medicine is everything not hereditary. Infectious diseases, allergies, and disorders caused by radiation, heat, pesticides, chemicals, even vibration all fall within this medical designation and the landscape of this book. Well-known and generally understood clinical phenomena, such as allergy, poisoning, and heatstroke, are addressed. Low-level chemical exposures and their effects on various organ systems (what many think of as "environmental medicine") are intertwined mostly as unknowns, animal studies, or suspicions.

The very breadth of environmental medicine makes the field an odd admixture of well-established disorders, worries of the day, and abject speculation.


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