New chemical bodies: synthetic chemicals, regulation, and human health

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Book Chapter

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This chapter focuses on the relationships between synthetic chemicals, ecosystems, and human health in the twentieth century. It first traces the emergence of concerns about the health effects of exposure to industrial chemicals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. More specifically, it examines the conceptual frameworks of industrial hygiene that arose in response to threats posed by poisons such as lead, as well as the emergence of threshold limit values. It also discusses the increased demand for agricultural and industrial products, which in turn stimulated the chemical industry and transformed government institutions, due to twentieth-century wars. The chapter then looks at the toxicological and regulatory frameworks developed by governments to address risks associated with chemicals, particularly pesticide residues. Finally, it considers an ecological perspective on health.

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© 2014 Oxford University Press. Publisher's version of record:

Publication Title

The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History