50 Years Later, Chemical Barrage Goes On

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The  Boston Globe’s excellent editorial this week focused on the 50th anniversary of the book Silent Spring. “If Rachel Carson were alive to mark the 50th anniversary of her book “Silent Spring,” her head would spin in both wonder and anger. The evidence of her influence literally flies all around us today, because Carson documented how pesticides were polluting the environment and harming birds and other animals. She warned that a “chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life.”

Rachel Carson is seen at Woods Hole, Maine, in 1951, 11 years before she published “Silent Spring.”
Her reporting led to the eventual ban in the United States of DDT and other compounds that were originally hailed as miracle weapons against disease-bearing or crop-eating insects. That gave us back the bald eagle and the perigrine falcon and returned vibrant aquatic life to ponds and waterways.

But we never came close to stopping the chemical barrage. The evidence is abundantly clear that even as eagles soar above, Americans are poisoning themselves in unprecedented ways, with the net result being that my child’s generation may have a life expectancy less than mine. Every week seems to bring new information on how the chemicals we use for our own convenience are affecting our environment and our health — perhaps more profoundly than when Carson wrote in the early 1960s.

Just last month, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that high levels of the chemical BPA, which is used to strengthen plastic bottles and prevent corrosion in food cans, are associated with obesity. “Clearly bad diet and lack of exercise are the leading contributors to childhood obesity, but this study suggests a significant role for environmental, particularly chemical factors in that epidemic,” lead author Leonardo Trasande of New York University’s medical school told ABC News.” 

To see the rest of the editorial go to http://bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2012/10/03/years-after-rachel-carson-silent-spring-chemical-barrage-goes/O9frrHU1JHQzTxVVwulLiK/story.html


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