Environmental Chemistry

November 4, 2010

Author: Stanley E. Manahan

Edition: Ninth

Publisher: CRC Press/Taylor and Francis

Pages: 783

Price: £35.99

ISBN 9781420059205

The subject of environmental chemistry is central to the environmental sciences, integrating aspects of the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere and hydrosphere. Imprinted on each of these is the so-called anthrosphere, or the component of the environment that is influenced by humans and their activities. Environmental chemistry is an extremely broad discipline and, consequently, any author attempting to cover it faces a substantial challenge.

Now in its ninth edition, Environmental Chemistry builds admirably on previous iterations that began 40 years ago. In this latest edition, Stanley Manahan introduces a full range of concepts and applications in a step-wise and clear manner. Each of the 29 chapters expands on basic principles in a style that should be accessible both to experts in chemistry and those new to the subject, making it particularly attractive to students studying the environmental sciences more generally.

The vast array of individual topics are accompanied by cited literature, supplementary reading material and problem exercises, all of which give it an encyclopedic quality that makes it a particularly attractive "first look" option. Given the ongoing and rapid changes in environmental chemistry, it is particularly pleasing to see so much recent literature cited.

Sadly, there are no colour illustrations to entertain the reader, but the schematic diagrams are clear, have a consistent format and contextualise the chemistry extremely well. That said, the book fails to present any raw scientific data, which is surprising given that much of what is known about environmental chemistry stems from the rigorous measurement of chemicals and their influences within numerous environmental contexts. Similarly, although there is some brief coverage of a number of modern analytical methods used routinely in environmental chemistry, there is no discussion of what state-of-the-art instrumentation is capable of achieving in terms of limits of detection or how improvements in analytical sensitivity have contributed to our understanding of environmental problems, both old and new.

One of the strengths of the book is that it covers far more than the traditional themes of environmental chemistry such as pollution, the structure of matter and chemical cycling. Indeed, several synergies with environmental biology and physics have been appropriately identified, resulting in sections covering toxicology, energy, waste management and sustainability. Such topics provide the book with a contemporary edge, without compromising the more traditional themes and basic principles that underpin the role of chemistry in the environmental sciences. Overall, the book should prove to be a valuable resource for readers wanting to get started in environmental chemistry, especially those looking for a one-stop shop.

Who is it for? Environmental science students and anyone wanting to get to grips with the basics of environmental chemistry.

Presentation: Readable, with a broad-brush approach.

Would you recommend it? Yes, especially for students looking for a single text that provides broad coverage of the topic. Not suitable for research purposes.

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