AS PRESIDENT Bush's pollsters have informed him, Americans seem to care a great deal about environmental hazards, placing special value on clean air and water. It is not difficult to generate public excitement about campaigns against secondhand smoke, lead, asbestos, pesticides, and other toxins. Toxic waste dumps are perceived by nearby communities as ticking time bombs. The omnipresent fear of cancer and other chronic diseases, whose causes remain unknown, probably generates the most anxiety. Patients ponder any previous actions or exposures that might have brought on their maladies. The need to blame is irresistible whether or not the association is supported by scientific data. Sadly, as illustrated by such popular books and movies as A Civil Action and Erin Brockovich, there is no shortage of real corporate villains to sow seeds of destruction into the environment.
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