Environmental Chemistry in Society: 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Environmental Chemistry in Society

2nd Edition

By James M. Beard

CRC Press

409 pages | 3 Color Illus. | 106 B/W Illus.

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Everyone can benefit from having some understanding of environmental science and the chemistry underlying issues such as global warming, ozone depletion, energy sources, air pollution, water pollution, and waste disposal. Environmental Chemistry in Society, Second Edition presents environmental science to the non-science student, specifically focusing on environmental chemistry, yet requiring no background in chemistry. This book is a self-contained text, offering all the information necessary for readers to understand the topics discussed. It provides a foundation in science, chemistry, and toxicology, including the laws of thermodynamics, chemical bonding, and environmental toxins.

This information then allows readers to delve into environmental topics, such as energy in society, air quality, global atmospheric concerns, water quality, and solid waste management. The arrangement of the book allows instructors flexibility in how they present the material, with the crucial topics being covered first. This second edition had been updated throughout and contains the following revisions:

  • Addition of a glossary of important terms
  • Extensive revision of the discussion questions at the end of each chapter to require more critical thinking skills
  • Updates to the environmental data
  • The division of the foundational chapter on chemistry into two chapters, so each one is more palatable
  • Coverage of fracking, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the 2010 Gulf oil spill

The book provides a qualitative approach, presenting the chemistry of the environment in such a way that students who have little or no science background can gain understanding and appreciation of this important subject.


Praise for the First Edition

This is just the text that my non-science major students needed. A qualitative approach to the chemistry behind many of our environmental issues today.

—David R. Ownby, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Environmental Science and Studies Program Towson University, Maryland, USA

… the author has researched the subject in depth, made the science relevant and easily understood and then integrated it to make a very coherent and quite enjoyable read. … An excellent and thought-provoking presentation.

—K. Jones, Chromatographia, 2010, 71

Table of Contents

Background to the Environmental Problem

Preagricultural Development

Horticulture and Agriculture

Development of Towns and Cities

Industrial Revolution, Phase I (Approximately 1760–1860)

Industrial Revolution, Phase II (Approximately 1860–1950)

Science and the Scientific Method

Science and Technology

Science and the Environment

Environment and Public Policy

The Natural Laws


Early Development of Chemistry

Lavoisier and the Law of Conservation of Matter


Work and Energy

First Law of Thermodynamics

Second Law of Thermodynamics

Matter, Energy, and the Environment

Underlying Principles of Chemistry

Atomic Theory

Periodic Law


Symbols, Formulas, and Equations

Chemical Bonding

Types of Chemical Compounds and Their Reactions

Acids and Bases

Precipitation Reactions


Organic Chemistry

Nuclear Chemistry

Element Cycles


Carbon Cycle

Oxygen Cycle

Hydrogen Cycle

Nitrogen Cycle

Phosphorus Cycle

Sulfur Cycle

Other Cycles


History of Toxicology

Environmental Toxicology

Toxicity Measurements

Routes of Exposure

Classification of Toxins

Respiratory Toxins

Rates of Chemical Reactions, Catalysis, and Enzymes

General Metabolic Toxins


Endocrine Toxins





Environmental Degradation of Toxins

Environmental Movement of Toxins

Energy and Modern Society

Energy Sources


Widely Used Energy Sources

Nuclear Power


Emerging Energy Sources

Hydrogen as Fuel

Energy Conservation

Weather and Climate

Atmosphere: Composition, Structure, and Dynamics

Water Cycle



Air Pollution

Classical Air Pollution

Industrial Smog

Photochemical Smog

Regionalization of Air Pollution

Air Pollution and the Law

Pollution Reduction

Air Inside

Some Background on Indoor Air Quality

Classification of Indoor Air Contaminants

Remedies for Indoor Air Contamination

Global Atmospheric Change

Gases as Insulators: Greenhouse Effect

Global Warming: Concept

Is Global Warming Important?

Global Warming: Effects

International Agreements on Global Warming

Chemistry of the Stratosphere: Ozone Layer

Importance of Ozone Layer

Ozone Depletion and Chlorofluorocarbons

National and International Response to Ozone Depletion


Physical Properties of Water

Water and Life

Locations of Water

Types of Water Use

Freshwater Shortages

Problems from Overuse of Groundwater

Water Shortage Solutions

Water Pollution

Nature and Sources of Water Pollution

Types of Water Pollutants

Pollution of Surface Water

Pollution of the Oceans

Pollution of Groundwater

Water Pollution Control

Solid Wastes

Sources of Solid Wastes

Composition of Domestic Solid Waste

Solid Waste Disposition

Hazardous Wastes

What Are Hazardous Wastes?

Where Do Hazardous Wastes Come From?

Historical and Traditional Approaches to Hazardous Waste Disposal

Current Practices in Hazardous Waste Management

Special Considerations for Radioactive Wastes



About the Author


James Beard

Salisbury, North Carolina, USA

Learn more about James Beard >>

James M. Beard, Ph.D., earned a BA in chemistry from Manchester College (now Manchester University) in 1965 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Stanford University in 1969. After two years of teaching chemistry at Manchester College, he pursued a career as a clinical chemist. During the next 12 years, Dr. Beard worked as a product developer, quality control consultant, and administrator in both hospital and industry settings. Since 1988, Dr. Beard has been a member of the faculty at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he is a professor of chemistry. Dr. Beard’s major interest at Catawba has been in environmental chemical education.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Chemistry / General
SCIENCE / Environmental Science