October 2007, Vol. 19, No.10

Water Volumes

Environmental Biology for Engineers and Scientists

Gang Chen

David A. Vaccari, Peter F. Strom, and James E. Alleman (2006). John Wiley & Sons, 111 River St., Hoboken, NJ 07030, 960 pp., $115, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-471-72239-7.

The premise of this book is that a bridge is needed between the daily biology and microbiology concepts used by the environmental engineer and the more far-reaching principles in which they are rooted but often are overlooked in an engineer’s formal university training.

The authors begin by covering basic biology concepts, such as the definition of life, chemical principles related to the composition of living things, and the description of a cell. From this starting point, they present an organized and gradual buildup of knowledge with an overall emphasis on biology, biochemistry, and microbiology.

Clear and concise chapters devoted to plant, animal, and human life forms are followed by a well-described exposition to the discovery, classification, and current understanding of the main microbial groups of life related to environmental remediation processes. Much detail related to wastewater treatment and solids stabilization is discussed. Relevant information is presented with regard to human microbial infection, from the historical angle of microscopy breakthroughs to the identification of disease-carrying agents to their routes of infection and transmission.

A full chapter is dedicated to the description of the microbial mediated conversions, such as oxidation and reduction of carbon, nitrogen sulfur, and iron.

Ecosystems and ecological issues are discussed in a holistic manner, taking into consideration matter and energy relationships in the different cycles affecting the biosphere.

Applications of biology to sustain environmental quality are discussed in the framework of wastewater; potable water; solids treatment; groundwater pollution prevention; and remediation.

The final chapters of the book are dedicated to toxicology, the fate and transport of toxins, and their bioadsorption and biotransformation.

Gang Chen is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Florida A&M University–Florida State University (Tallahassee).

Gang Chen is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Florida A&M University–Florida State University (Tallahassee).