Elements of environmental chemistry

Elements of environmental chemistry 

Ronald Hites 

Chichester, UK | Wiley Interscience |2007 | 204pp | ?20.42 (SB) |ISBN 9780471998150 

Reviewed by David Taylor

Environmental science courses are very often viewed as simple descriptive subjects that can be mastered with little effort and without the need for anything as complex as mathematics, and this is often mirrored in the multiplicity of associated student text books. Consequently it is a pleasure to review this short volume which treats the subject of environmental chemistry in an appropriate manner as an essentially quantitative discipline. 

The book is not intended to be a reference work in environmental chemistry, but is written as a teaching aid suitable for ’upper-level undergraduate chemistry or chemical engineering majors or first year graduate students with only a modest physical science background’.  

The book is written as a series of short tutorials supported by over 100, mainly quantitative, problems. These introduce the student, in a logical sequence, to all the basic principles on which environmental chemistry is based. The treatment is simple and logical and introduces fundamental concepts such as mass balance and kinetics in an easily digestible form supported by worked examples. This is followed by more extensive treatments of atmospheric chemistry and the principles of environmental fate.  

The only minor criticism of the book relates to the somewhat disappointing final chapter, which not only deals with a somewhat idiosyncratic selection of micropollutants, but uses a descriptive style. It would have been more appropriate to use the opportunity to continue the quantitative treatment of ecotoxicology.   

Nevertheless this a useful introductory text for students who wish to learn something of the complexities of environmental issues.