“The dustiest place on earth” is the Bodélé depression in Chad which contains an extensive diatomite formed by the paleolake MegaChad (Giles, 2005). It is the source of an estimated 61,000 cubic kilometres of diatoms transported by wind from the area during the past thousand years (Bristow et al., 2008). Satellite imaging of dust plumes reveals it to be the largest source of global airborne dust today (Goudie, 2008). Most natural eolian dust comes from drainage depressions in deserts (Middleton and Goudie, 2001). Many of these once held large water bodies such as MegaChad, West Africa; Owens Lake, North America; Lake Eyre, Australia; and the Aral Sea, Eurasia (Warren et al., 2007).
Scientists trap eolian material for various objectives: atmospheric scientists interested in particles and aerosols, aerobiologists in disease spores and allergens, biologists in dispersal, and forensic workers interested in airborne contaminants (diatoms: Geissler and Gerloff, 1966). Collection techniques involve either passive or active traps; the first exposes funnels or adhesive surfaces and the second pumps air through filters (Lacey and West, 2006). Diatom remains are rare in most traps, and, when present, are not always recognized.
Sometimes living diatoms are aerially dispersed. They rarely grow on exposed agar plates or culture media (Kristiansen, 1996; Broady, 1996); few airborne diatoms are intact (Elster et al., 2007); and motile diatoms normally avoid drying surfaces (Marshall and Chalmers, 1997).
It has been almost ten years since the first edition of Obstetric Anesthesia and Uncommon Disorders was published. Over the past few years colleagues have asked the editors when they could expect to see a new edition. We had some hesitation, not least of which was because we felt that many practioners could find most of this information for themselves using the internet or subspecialty journals. Upon reflection, we recognized that there is no substitute for a textbook that contains information gathered and carefully reviewed by a number of devoted specialists. Hence, spurred on by those requests for a second edition it was decided to create a revision that provides more recent references and reflects some of the changes in obstetric anesthesia practice that have occurred over the past ten years. With the assistance of a third editor, Robert S. F. McKay, we recruited some outstanding new contributors from around the world and created a second edition that we trust the reader will find useful. We have continued to use chapters based on body systems and diseases. We have consolidated some chapters, split others, and added two new chapters, namely ‘Chronic pain in pregnancy’ and ‘Malignancy and pregnancy’. There are now 23 chapters each illustrated with figures, tables, and photographs, and each chapter is accompanied by a comprehensive list of updated references.
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