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Edited by B Gordon, R Mackay, E Rehfuess. Geneva: World Health Organisation, 2004, $27.00, pp 64. ISBN 92 4 159156 0
Whether it is exposure to passive smoking or toxic pollution, there is growing evidence that our ever worsening environment plays an important role in the health burden to our younger generation.
The authors of this newly published WHO book should be congratulated for relating such a dull subject to children’s health and putting them together in an enlightening way.
Well illustrated atlas: Most chapters contain a world map for comparing the environmental risk between countries. It is very easy to pick up the comparison with the simple colour scheme. Some illustrations are humorous; for example, the price of life, with the pile of cash for pet food in developed countries more than twice that of those used for childhood vaccination in developing countries.
Background description is simple and to the point: Environmental risks are split up into chapters and hence it is easy to choose a topic of interest and look at the statistics. A world data table is included at the end of the book for those interested in figures. Some of the chapters do offer simple solutions; for example, the sun exposure map showed the global solar UV index regions and the necessary protection for each zone.
A very good teaching material: For those working in a developing country, it is a very useful material for teaching. For example, it is easy to download a poster size of a chapter from http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/atlas/en/ for the demonstration.
However, it is disappointing not to find any chapter on natural disasters such as earthquakes, and environments destroyed by war, by, for example, landmines. These are small issues but do impose a great health hazard for certain countries.
This book should be recommended to those who want to demonstrate the environmental hazards to our children’s health. It is well referenced and easy to read, and certainly easy to use. And we should all remember that protecting our environment is on the agenda from the “say yes to children” campaign in 2002.
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