Editorial: Environmental health - Environmental Science & Technology

Editorial: Environmental health. R R. Christenson. Environ. Sci. Technol. , 1986, 20 (2), pp 107–107. DOI: 10.1021/es00144a603. Publication Date: Fe...
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EDITORIAL Environmental health On several occasions recently I have been asked why ES&T does not cover the field of environmental health. This is a disturbing question if the answer is that we have chosen to exclude either the presentation of original and significant advances in environmental health research from our journal section or the discussion of related issues from our magazine section. ES&T is not preferentially oriented toward any particular category of environmental subject matter. Our foremost concern is with publishing the highest quality peer-reviewed research and feature articles available, regardless of emphasis. Because ES& T is a publication of the American Chemical Society we are required to ensure that all articles we publish contain significant chemistry content. Given the scope of environmental issues and the breadth of scientific problems subsumed by them, editorial reliance on any categorical designation-environmental engineering, environmental biology, or environmental health, for example-would be futile. I believe, however, that those who have raised this question have a valid point, although it is perhaps not the point they intended. The point is to be found in the contrasts between traditional and current, practical and theoretical, popular and forgotten. We have forgotten traditional problems that still plague our communities; we harken to momentary emphases (pollutant of the month); abandon unresolved problems (housing, habitat, and infectious disease). Even research activities tend to minimize exploration of global issues (atmospheric carbon dioxide) in favor of more easily defined issues such as the problems caused by trihalomethanes, pesticides, or food additives. In this sense, all major environmental journals must share the criticism, some to a greater degree than ES&T (see Abel Wolman’s editorial in the September

0013-936X/86/0920-0107$01.50/0 0 1986 American Chemical Society

1985 issue of the Journal of the American Public Health Association). The problem, however, is of even greater complexity. Journals reflect the reality of current research and practice in all the sciences of environmental study. All. sectors of the community of environmental interest are involved, and the journals are properly a mirror of these interests. In part, any oversights can be related to patterns in research, funding, university curricula, the opinions of individual editors, and the choices and interests of research investigators. If addressing problems of research were the only responsibility of our journals, editors, and their boards and advisers, these persons would spend all of their energy maximizing the journals’ reflective properties, as is done in ES&T’s current research section. In ES&T, we have attempted to address an additional function: to inform the scientific community that generates and uses the current research section. Thus, in our features and other magazine departments, we have a somewhat expanded focus, although it is still directed toward users of chemistry-oriented research on environmental matters. This focus includes articles that integrate considerations of chemistry and environmental health. We welcome research papers on important environmental health issues that contain significant chemistry content. We also welcome feature articles that transcend the traditional compartmentalization of health, chemistry, and engineering.

Environ. Sci. Technol., Vol. 20, No. 2,1986 107