cover image Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA

Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA

E.G. Vallianatos, with McKay Jenkins. Bloomsbury, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-60819-914-3

Vallianatos, after a 25-year stint at the Environmental Protection Agency, pulls back the curtain on the watchdog agency’s failure to guard public safety and monitor land use due to steady erosion of its enforcement practices. With environmental journalist Jenkins he blasts the EPA’s ineptitude since its 1970 inception, intensely pressured as it is by politicians and corporations to approve the use of synthetic chemicals without proper testing—“biologic death bombs” in the air, water, and in our bodies. The EPA, through its Congressional mandate, enforces more than a dozen environmental laws, yet it has approved hundreds of pesticides that have been used unnecessarily, excessively, or which have been outright abused, the book contends. Vallianatos does give the agency credit for the hard-fought ban on DDT that was opposed by the chemical companies and pesticide apologists. He also explores the causes of the dwindling honeybee population and the loss of the traditional family farms to the aggressive corporate giants, as well as the repression of EPA whistleblowers squashed by a code of silence and lack of access to information. The authors tout healthier living through small, nontoxic family farms while delivering an alarming, comprehensive account of a “fatally compromised” EPA mission crippled by bad enforcement practices and numerous corrupting influences. (Apr.)