Recent nonfiction briefly noted . . .; Call to action against waste hazards Hazardous Waste in America, by Samuel S. Epstein, Lester O. Brown, and Carl Pope. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books (distributed by Random House). 593 pp.

For Woodrow Sterling, the lesson came when he discovered that the drinking water from his well was polluted by up to 20 different toxic chemicals. For Judy Piatt, it came when 43 horses died from contaminated road oil sprayed on the exercise arena at her breeding ranch. For the Bulka family, it was when the basement of their suburban home filled up with a corrosive, poisonous sludge.

All these people learned from hard experience that hazardous chemical waste presents one of the most insidious, pervasive, and potentially calamitous problems in America. Their stories are just a few of many in this comprehensive book published by the conservation-oriented Sierra Club.''Hazardous Waste in America'' covers its broad topic from virtually every possible angle - ecological, legal, and political. One of its central messages is that simply stopping fly-by-night dumping operations will not prevent widespread pollution; chemical production facilities must be radically redesigned to create ''closed-loop'' technologies.

Sections on the Reagan administration are of particular interest in light of recent controversies surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency. They charge that the White House has apparently ''launched an assault upon the entire infrastructure upon which society must rely to control toxic materials, including wastes.''

Concerned readers will find all this a call not to despair, but to constructive action. As the authors stress, ''Solutions to the problem are possible.

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