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The Illusion of Certainty


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Table of Contents

Part I: The Basics.- 1. The Illusion of Certainty.- 2. Cause and Effect vs. Risk Factors.- 3. Reframing the Debate.- 4. Assessing Human Health Risks from Environmental Contaminants.- 5. The Sources of Uncertainty.- Part II: Case Studies.- 6. VioxxTM and Heart Attacks.- 7. Prostate Cancer Screening.- 8. Elevated Cholesterol: A Primary Risk Factor for Heart Disease?.- 9. Statins, Cholesterol, and Coronary Heart Disease.- 10. Colorectal Cancer Screening.- 11. Health Effects of Smoking.- 12. Chlorination of Drinking Water and Health Risks.- 13. Exposure to Residential Radon and the Risk of Lung Cancer.- 14. Ecological Risk Assessment.- 15. Asian Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.- 16. Chromium and Sediment Toxicity.- Part III: Perspectives.- 17. The Physician's and Patient's Perspective.- 18. Acceptable Health Benefits and Risks.- Appendices.- Appendix A: A Brief Primer on Statistical Approaches for Quantifying Uncertainty.- Appendix B: Two Clinical Studies that Evaluated Blood Serum Cholesterol as a Risk Factor for Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).- Appendix C: Glossary.- References.- About the Authors.

About the Author

Erik Rifkin is the president of an environmental consulting firm that specializes in the characterization of ecological and human health risks from exposure to soil, water, air and sediments. His firm provides assistance and guidance to federal and state regulatory agencies and corporations regarding the nature and magnitude of environmental risks and potential remediation strategies. Dr. Rifkin's broad experience includes the communication of health risks and benefits to groups concerned with these issues. Edward J. Bouwer is Professor of Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He has extensive experience with water and soil pollution and treatment. His research provides guidance on defining and managing environmental risks and how to interpret human and ecological health risk data. Dr. Bouwer has served on several National Research Council committees that provide guidance on managing human and ecological risks to Congress, regulatory agencies, and the scientific community.


From the reviews: "The aim is principally to assist the public in comprehending and interpreting health benefit and risk information, and provide them with the basic methods that will allow them to make their own judgements. ! A significant feature of the book is the introduction of a new way of assisting the reader to conceptualise the absolute risk or benefit to an individual. ! It could be used as a reference book by a member of the public ! ." (Roy Mooney, SCOPE, June, 2008)

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