April 08, 2013
“In this region we have so much to learn from Rachel Carson and are driven by the cleanup of DDTs produced and disposed by Velsicol Chemical Corp. There is a direct link from mid-Michigan to Silent Spring.” — Ed Lorenz
Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson alerted the public to environmental concerns and the dangers of synthetic pesticides with the publication of her book, Silent Spring.
Despite sparking immediate opposition from the booming pesticide industry, Carson’s book inspired many people from across the country, including students at Alma College, to become involved in environmental activism.
Alma College, in collaboration with the Pine River Superfund Citizen’s Task Force, presents “Echoes of Silent Spring: 50 Years of Environmental Awareness,” an exhibit on loan from the Michigan State University Museum.
The exhibit’s 30 large panels will be on display in the Dow Science Center and Kapp Science Laboratory Center from April 11 until mid-October. Admission is free and open to the public. An opening reception is planned for 5 p.m. April 11 in the Dow Science Center lobby.
“In this region we have so much to learn from Rachel Carson and are driven by the cleanup of DDTs produced and disposed by Velsicol Chemical Corp,” says Ed Lorenz, professor at Alma College and legal chair of The Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Forces. “There is a direct link from mid-Michigan to Silent Spring.”
The Alma-St. Louis area contains three Superfund sites. These sites, located in the watershed of the Pine River, resulted from the dumping of the byproducts of DDT production and a fire retardant based upon polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs).
Between 1999 and 2005, the U.S. EPA removed more than 600,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the Pine River. In 2004 the St. Louis water supply was contaminated as well with the DDT byproduct, pCBSA.
In the spring of 2008, Alma College hosted the Eugene Kenaga International DDT Conference on Environment and Health to discuss the known impact of DDT on human health and the environment. The conference brought together numerous national and international experts to lead discussions of current knowledge of the chemical.
While the use of DDT has been banned in the United States since 1972, the chemical has been defended for its effectiveness in fighting malaria in African and Asian countries. The conference released “The Pine River Statement: Human Health Consequences of DDT,” urging global policymakers to reconsider the future use of DDT.
Lorenz hopes that the Rachel Carson exhibit will promote course-related discussions as well as attract surrounding school districts and communities to come and take the tour.