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Book Review Ammunition against Chemical Scaremongers The Consumer's Good Chemical Guide. A Jargon-free Guide to the Chemicals of Everyday Life. By J. Emsley

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Ammunition against Chemical Scaremongers
The Consumer’s Good Chemical
Guide. A Jargon-free Guide to the
Chemicals of Everyday Life. By J
Ems/q*. W. H. Freeman, New
York, 1994. XI. 347 pp., hardcover
$24.95.- ISBN 0-7167-4505-4
In contrast to the prevalent practice of
accusing a given chemical of causing a
disease or illness on the basis of alarming
but unsound statistics. Emsley lucidly explains the chemistry involved and then
shows that it is inconsistent with the accusations being made against the chemical.
Intending his guide primarily for nonsciFor those concerned with the current
epidemic of chemophobia and anti-sci- entists, he eschews chemical formulas in
the text but provides structural formulas
ence attitudes rampant in today’s sociand additional technical data on 193 subety and that should include all of usthis book, which received the 1995 stances (designated in the text by boldface
type) from acesulfam to yohimbine in a
RhBne-Poulenc Science Book Prize,
54-page cross-referenced alphabetical apbrings good news. Its author, John Emspendix. The information is not limited to
ley, recipient o f the 1993 Glaxo Award for
the present-day controversial aspects of
Science Writing, spent a quarter-century
chemicals, such as their effects on life on
lecturing at the University of London and
earth and on the environment, but much
is now Science Writer in Residence at
fascinating and valuable background maLondon‘s Imperial College of Science,
terial, historical as well as anecdotal, is
Technology and Medicine. In this successful attempt to counter the “bad press”
provided. For example, Emsley traces the
created for chemistry by scare-of-the- evolution of perfumery from biblical
week stories, he deals with timely issues
times, discloses the fragrances in Chanel
frequently in the news by systematically No. 5, discusses what makes a molecule
exposing misinformation disseminated by
taste sweet, reveals how to avoid a hangirresponsible media about chemicals with
over, and shares with the reader the classiwhich we daily come in contact. In accescal basis for successful dieting as well as
sible, nontechnical language he presents
“the boring diet that’s guaranteed to
up-to-date information on natural and
work” according to the laws of chemistry.
artificial sweeteners, cholesterol, fats,
At the end of each chapter he summarizes
fiber. painkillers. PVC. plastics, dioxins,
his conclusions, and he is not afraid to
take a stand, as, for example, when he
nitrates. and carbon dioxide and the
greenhouse effect. In separate chapters he
declares, “As far as our animal friends are
concerned we should continue to research
showa how perfume chemists are trying to
make the world a better place and simulthe dioxins, but as far as humans are contaneously saving wildlife and how alcohol
cerned the dioxin scare is over” (p. 203).
can not only improve the quality of life
A 10-page bibliography lists books and
but may also prolong it. Some chemicals
articles, divided according to each of the
about which the public is worried, such as
book’s ten chapters and subdivided into
CFCs, lead, or radon are not included for
general and specialist reading. as well as
the sources that Emsley consulted in writthe simple reason that they actually ure
dangerous (the book’s title refers to good
ing the book. A 17-page (2 columns per
chemicals that are only generally ass~tmed page) index facilitates location of topics.
to be had).
This handy volume provides readers
(with or without a scientific background)
with unexpected, surprising. and reassurTlu\ section conlains hook review5 and a list of
ing answers that expose the misinformaneu hook\ received by theeditor. Book reviews are
written h i invitation from the editor. Suggeslions
tion and disinformation that surround
for hooks to he reviewed and for book reviewers
many of the controversial chemicals that
arc wclcoiiic. Puhlishers ahould send brochures or
we all encounter today and that impinge
(bcther) hook, to Dr. Ralf Baumann. Redaktion
on our lives. As such, it will be of interest
Angckandtc (‘hrrnie. Postfach 10 1 1 61. D-69451
Weinheim. Federal Republic ofGermany. The edinot only to the public at large but
tor reservcs lhc right of selecting which books will
also to instructors of chemistry, biology.
he rebirwed. Uninvited books not chosen for
environmental science. and risk assessrcvicu: w i l l no( hc retul-ned.
ment courses. Emsley promises a second
volume in which he will deal with additional chemicals that have given rise to
alarm such as phosphates. MSG, preservatives, chlorine, nicotine, methanol. and
the HFCs and others that have led to unrealistic hopes of improved health, such
as vitamin C and calcium.
George B. KaujJman, Ltiurk M . Kuujyman
California State University
Fresno, CA (USA)
Practical Surface Analysis. A2, Vol. 1.
Auger and X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy. 2nd Edition. Edited by
D. Bviggs and M . P . Seah. Wiley,
Chichester/Salle & Sauerlander,
Aarau, 1994. 649 pp., paperback
& 49.95.-ISBN 0-471 -9540-7
The first edition of this work, published
in 1983 with a distinctive cover that Kave
it its common name “the blue hook”,
soon became established as an indispensable handbook for the practitioner in the
field of applied Auger spectroscopy (AES)
and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
(XPS). In 1990 it was followed by a second edition (”the red book”), enlarged
and improved in inany respects, and this
has now also become available in a paperback version.
The declared aim of the editors is to
provide a practical aid, within a single
book, for users of AES and XPS, the two
most important methods of electron spectroscopy, especially with beginners in
mind. The ground covered ranges from
introducing the theoretical basis of the
methods to describing the most important
areas of application. The contributions
make up a well coordinated whole, which
is undoubtedly an important reason why
this has become tile standard book, not
just for beginners but for many surface
The book consists of ten chapters. of
which the first five are devoted to the basic
principles of AES and XPS, whereas
Chapters 6 to 10 concentrate on the most
important areas of application. Chapter I
introduces general aspects of the analysis
of surfaces and thin films by irradiation
with electrons, ions, or photons. Chap0570-0833:95:.?41K-205Y h’ 10.00
’ 6
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