September 15, 2008 (Vol. 28, No. 16)
Strong Points: Shock value
Weak Points: Could have more breadth
achel Carson turned the scientific world upside down with her 1962 book, Silent Spring, in which she brought to light to the American public the concerns of environmental problems caused by indiscriminate use of pesticides. Her book was largely instrumental in the ultimate ban of DDT and other pesticides, and is credited with creating a grassroots environmental movement that ultimately led to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Silent Spring Institute, dedicated to the memory of Carson’s landmark book, is a partnership of scientists and health professionals with common interests in the links between women’s health and the environment. A quick look -over of the site’s pages will be eye-opening. There, visitors can learn that perfluorooctanoic acid (a reagent used to make Teflon stick to pans) increases the incidence of mammary tumors in rats. They argue that the fivefold differences in incidence of breast cancer around the world point to big problems with living in the developed world. These are just the tip of the iceberg. The number of studies and the finds will likely shock you, much as Carson’s book did originally.