Rachel Carson

Linking Up: Making Every Day Earth Day

By Tom Burke, Ph.D.

Today marks my first Earth Day as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. This is the one day of the year when people around the world unite to celebrate our planet, and I’m thrilled to be at a place where strengthening the links between a healthy environment and healthy communities are at the forefront of everything we do.

Eagle parents tend to their eaglets.

Eagle parents tend to their eaglets.

I began my day today checking in on the month-old eaglets up near Codorus State Park in Pennsylvania. The chicks are flourishing and provide a wonderful metaphor for the remarkable progress that has been made since the first Earth Day 45 years ago. What started as a collective unease about the state of local waterways, polluted lands, and haze-obscured views across urban neighborhoods was soon amplified in screaming national headlines about rivers on fire, and Rachel Carson’s best-selling book Silent Spring outlining the dangers of the indiscriminant use of the chemical pesticide DDT.

Such events helped spark the realization that when it comes to our environment, we are all in this together. And it was science—much of it led or conducted by EPA researchers—that taught us how to turn environmental concerns into action.

By understanding how particulate matter and other pollutants in the air relate to asthma rates and longevity, between lead exposure and childhood development, and between disease and contaminated water, local public health officials know what steps they can take to better protect people.

That track record for responsive science is why EPA labs are always among the first called when environmental emergencies strike, such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico or when harmful algal blooms threatened Toledo’s drinking water supply. EPA expertise is counted on to help local officials identify hazards, know what tests to conduct, and when to issue or lift health advisories.

And what’s more, that same expertise is also driving innovative research that is not only helping communities become more resilient today, but developing the tools, models, and solutions to lower risks and advance sustainability for the future. Just a small sampling of examples include:

  • Our researchers have teamed up with colleagues at NASA, NOAA, and the U.S. Geological Survey to develop ways to tap satellite data to monitor water quality and better predict harmful algal blooms.
  • Empowering scientists and communities alike to tap a new generation of small, inexpensive, and portable air sensors to track air quality through The Village Green Project and others.
  • Our Healthy Heart campaign helps cardiac healthcare professionals use existing and emerging research to educate their patients about the link between air quality and their health—and to take action to avoid exposures during “ozone alert” days.
  • Advancing sophisticated computational toxicology methods and technologies through partnerships such as Tox21 to usher in a new paradigm of faster and far less expensive chemical screening techniques.
  • Providing data and mapping tools such as EPA’s EnviroAtlas that help community planners and other citizens identify, quantify, and sustain the many benefits they get from the natural ecosystems that surround them.

I started my own career conducting environmental investigations and epidemiological studies, and working closely with county and city health officials. These officials are on the front lines of environmental health and our communities depend upon them. Providing support by linking them to the data, tools, and innovative solutions mentioned above is one of my top priorities as EPA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for our Office of Research and Development.

That will take a continued commitment to communications and translation of our science to action, all part of keeping the critical link between a healthy environment and healthy people at the forefront of our thinking. Sharing our work with public health professionals is one way we can work together to make every day Earth Day. And that’s something we can all celebrate.

EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator Tom Burke

EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator Tom Burke

 

About the Author: Thomas Burke, Ph.D. is the Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development as well as EPA’s Science Advisor. Prior to coming to EPA, he served as the Jacob I. and Irene B. Fabrikant Professor and Chair in Health, Risk and Society and the Associate Dean for Public Health Practice and Training at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Celebrando las mujeres que posibilitan la protección ambiental

Por Gina McCarthy, administradora de la EPA

Al publicar su libro innovador en 1962, Primavera silenciosa, Rachel Carson convirtió la prosa en una poderosa herramienta para el bien. Ella transformó nuestra perspectiva sobre el mundo natural que nos rodea, al informarnos sobre los peligros de la aplicación rampante del DDT, un poderoso pesticida que envenenó a las aves. Su libro creó conciencia acerca de los peligros del uso excesivo de los plaguicidas y lanzó el movimiento medioambientalista.
Carson, una bióloga marina, trabajó por muchos años en el servicio público como una editora en el Servicio Federal de Pesca y Vida Silvestre (infórmese mediante una grabación que compartí con la Casa Blanca). Ella y muchas otras como ella, abrieron el camino para un sinnúmero de mujeres a lo largo de los años—científicas, investigadoras, activistas y organizadoras—que vencieron todos los obstáculos para decir las verdades que tenían que ser dichas.

 

Marzo es el Mes de la Historia de la Mujer, un momento para celebrar las mujeres valerosas que ayudaron a desarrollar y avanzar el progreso ambiental moderno.

 

A lo largo de los últimos 45 años de liderazgo de la EPA, hemos logrado tremendos avances—al recortar dramáticamente la contaminación del aire, al limpiar nuestra agua y tierra, y al proteger a las comunidades vulnerables del daño. Este mes, honramos a los líderes que surcaron los caminos para que las mujeres siguieran en sus pasos—desde las cuatro mujeres quienes fungieron como administradoras de la agencia previamente, a un sinnúmero de otras quienes vencieron el prejuicio para transformar la sociedad.

He aquí tan solo algunas de estas mujeres líderes, quienes moldearon y avanzaron el movimiento medioambientalista como lo conocemos hoy en día.

  • Rosalie Edge fue la primera mujer en fundar y liderar una organización defensora del medio ambiente en el 1928. También fue una sufragista consumada. Una aficionada a la observación de aves, ella fundó el Santuario Montañoso para Halcones, la primera reserva del mundo para aves de rapiña.
  • Polly Dyer ayudó a proteger las costas prístinas del Estado de Washington. Ella organizó y abogó a favor de la protección del Bosque Nacional Olímpico, y lideró los esfuerzos de muchos años por aprobar la Ley de Áreas Silvestres de 1964.
  • Peggy Shepard fundó WE ACT (Tomamos acción) para la Justicia Ambiental en el 1988 y lleva muchos años como líder de dicha organización. WE ACT fue la primera organización en Nueva York en enfocarse específicamente en la limpieza del medio ambiente para proteger la salud y mejorar las vidas de las personas de color.
  • Sylvia Earle, una destacada oceanógrafa, lideró más de 50 expediciones de investigación bajo el mar. A principios de los 1990, ella fue la primera principal mujer científica de la Oficina Nacional de Administración Oceánica y Atmosférica. La Revista Time la catalogó como la primera Héroe del Planeta en el 1998.
  • Vivian Malone Jones luchó toda su vida por los derechos civiles. En el 1963, fue una de las primeras estadounidenses africanas en matricularse en la Universidad de Alabama cuando esta institución académica admitió estudiantes de origen africano. Como parte de su lucha por los derechos civiles, luego emprendió una carrera profesional en la EPA, donde pasó varios años como una importante campeona de la justicia ambiental.

En los años sesenta, gracias a la visión vanguardista de Carson, el President Kennedy tomó acción que condujo finalmente a la prohibición del DDT. Si ella nos pudiera ver ahora, Carson no tan solo estaría orgullosa de nuestra marcha hacia un medio ambiente más limpio, sino también por nuestra marcha hacia una sociedad más equitativa. En la actualidad, alrededor del 40% de los científicos e ingenieros en la EPA son mujeres. No obstante, sabemos que queda mucho por hacer en ambos frentes.

Yo espero que se unan a nosotros este mes y todos los meses en celebrar a estas mujeres increíbles y que ustedes también compartirán las historias de las mujeres visionarias que les han inspirado.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Celebrating Women who make Environmental Protection Possible

In publishing her game-changing book in 1962, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson turned prose into a powerful tool for good. She transformed our perspective on the natural world around us, informing us of the dangers of rampant application of DDT, a powerful pesticide that poisoned birds. Her book raised awareness about the dangers of pesticide overuse and launched the environmental movement.

Carson, a marine biologist, worked for many years in public service as an editor at the Fish and Wildlife Service (learn more from an audio clip I shared with the White House). She, and many like her, blazed a trail for countless women over the years—scientists, researchers, activists, organizers—who overcame the odds to tell truths that needed to be told.

March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the courageous women who helped build and advance modern environmental progress.

Over the last 45 years of EPA leadership, we’ve made tremendous progress—dramatically cutting air pollution, cleaning up our water and land, and protecting vulnerable communities from harm. This month, we honor the leaders who’ve paved the way for women to follow in their footsteps—from the four women who’ve previously served as this agency’s Administrators, to the countless others who overcame prejudice to transform society.

Here are just a few of those women leaders, who shaped and advanced the environmental movement as we know it:

  • Rosalie Edge was one of the first women to found and lead an environmental advocacy organization in 1928, and was an ardent suffragist. An amateur birdwatcher, she founded Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the first preserve in the world for birds of prey.
  • Polly Dyer helped protect Washington State’s pristine coastline. She organized and advocated for the protection of the Olympic National Forest, and was a leader in the multi-year efforts to pass the 1964 Wilderness Act.
  • Peggy Shepard founded WE ACT for Environmental Justice in 1988, and has been a longtime leader there. WE ACT was the first organization in New York that focused specifically on cleaning up the environment to protect the health and improve the lives of people of color.
  • Sylvia Earle, an accomplished oceanographer, has led more than 50 underwater research expeditions. In the early 1990s, she became the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Time Magazine acknowledged her as its first Hero for the Planet in 1998.
  • Vivian Malone Jones fought all her life for civil rights. In 1963, she was among the first African Americans to enroll at the University of Alabama when it was integrated. As an extension of her fight for civil rights, she’d later take on a career at EPA, where she spent years as a foremost champion for environmental justice.

Back in the ‘60s, thanks in part to Carson’s foresight, President Kennedy took action that ultimately led to a ban on DDT. If she could see us now, Carson would not only be proud of our march toward a cleaner environment, but also of our march toward a more equitable society. Today, almost 40% of EPA scientists and engineers are women. But we know that there’s a lot more to do on both fronts.

I hope you’ll join me this month, and every month, in celebrating these incredible women—and that you’ll share the stories of the game-changing women who inspire you, too.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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You Might Know the Next Rachel Carson

flaagRachel Carson wrote a famous book called Silent Spring, which led our country to ban DDT, a harmful pesticide, and rethink the relationship between our environment and our health. Before that, she served as a scientist and editor at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, eventually becoming Editor-in-Chief of all of the agency’s publications. In those days, it was rare for a woman to serve as a scientist, and even more rare to rise to a position of leadership.

Our country has made a lot of progress since then. In 1970, only 11% of women between the ages of 25 and 64 had a college degree. By 2012, that number had climbed to 38%. And since the late 1990s, women have been awarded about half of all bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering. But in spite of all these gains, only about one in four environmental scientists or geoscientists across the country are women – so we still have a long way to go.

EPA has been lucky to have many extraordinary women launch and grow their careers here. We make up a little more than half of EPA’s workforce, and about 44% of our supervisors and managers. Women do just about every job you can imagine — from running major research efforts to analyzing data to steering our work to protect clean air and water.

That includes environmental experts like Jane Nishida, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator in our Office of International and Tribal Affairs, and Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for our Office of Air and Radiation, who worked to launch our international air quality monitoring effort that is helping us lead the way as we act on climate. It includes lawyers like Lorie Schmidt, who played a key role in last year’s Supreme Court win affirming our authority to regulate greenhouse gases, and who is heavily involved in finalizing our Clean Power Plan. It also includes innovative leaders like Cynthia Giles, our Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, who developed our Next-Generation Compliance program that leverages new technologies for monitoring, reporting, permitting and transparency, making it easier for companies and organizations to follow the law.

Five of our 13 Administrators since the agency was established have been women, including our current leader, Gina McCarthy. Five of our current Associate and Assistant Administrators are women, too. Three of our 10 Regional Administrators and seven of our 10 Deputy Regional Administrators are women who guide our work in different parts of the country. The women leaders here are too many to list, and for every one woman who has been in the public eye, there are dozens more driving our work forward throughout the organization.

Odds are good that you know a young woman who will soon be thinking about what she wants to study in school, and what path she wants her life to take. Encourage her to seek out a career where she can help protect the environment. That young woman you know could be the next Rachel Carson or Gina McCarthy, and she might step into a decades-long career in public service and environmental protection that changes the face of the world.

All throughout March, we’ll be highlighting women here at the EPA and at some of our sister agencies who are moving our work forward. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to join the conversation, and check out the slideshow below to meet a few of the women who work here at the EPA.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Planting Seeds

E-STEM

Summer is the time for youth camps, whether they’re sports, arts, or a little bit of everything.  Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to visit a very unique summer camp in the District of Columbia – “E-STEM,” the Environmental – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Leadership Camp run by Living Classrooms National Capital Region and partially sponsored by EPA. The young girls participating had already been recognized by their teachers and communities for their academic performance, along with leadership potential. I saw some of these attributes as they shared their experiences, such as the vegetables and flowers they grew in wooden pallets that had been painted and converted into mini “urban” gardens.

The camp’s green science activities seemed to have sprouted something even more – a greater interest by the middle school girls in environmental issues and maybe even in technical careers down the road.

More

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For the Birds, and the Turtles, and the Deer

By Moira McGuinness

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

The real wealth of the Nation lies in the resources of the earth — soil, water, forests, minerals, and wildlife. To utilize them for present needs while insuring their preservation for future generations requires a delicately balanced and continuing program, based on the most extensive research.
—Rachel Carson*

 

 

I consider myself a city kid with a country heart.  I was born in Washington, DC, have lived nearly my whole life in the DC suburbs, but I spend every weekend I can in the Shenandoah Valley at a cabin my parents bought in 1966. The cabin and the pond, fields, and woods that surround it are more home to me than the neighborhood I was raised in. Spending time out there just wandering around renews and heals my spirit like nothing else does.

A deer at the farm. Image by the author.

A deer at the farm. Image by the author.

This summer I asked a forester to produce a management plan for the 100 acres of woods on the property.  His plan included short-term ways to make the forest healthier and make room for the undergrowth that deer thrive on, and recommendations for longer-term growth. I agree with Rachel Carson that conservation requires a balanced approach based on research. I am thankful to have the help of a trained scientist in deciding how best to care for the trees and the wildlife that depend on them.

I know having such a connection to nature is a gift as well as a responsibility.  That’s why I especially enjoyed helping to get the Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Finalists page ready to go online. The photos, essays, songs, poems, and dances, have inspired me to invite friends out to my little mountain retreat more often and share with them my own sense of wonder at the gift nature is. I invite you to cast your ballot for your favorite entry in each of the categories. Send an email with your favorites to aging.info@epa.gov or mail your votes to:

Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest
C/O Kathy Sykes
U.S. EPA Mail Code 8101R
1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Room 41284

Voting closes Friday September 27, 2013.

“Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth, are never alone or weary of life.” ―Rachel Carson

About the Author: Moira McGuinness manages EPA Research web content. When not working with the Science Communication Staff in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, she likes to photograph wildlife she sees near her cabin.

*Letter to the editor, Washington Post (1953); quoted in Lost Woods:The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson (1999) edited by Linda Lear, p. 99

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Celebrating Rachel Carson’s Life and Legacy

 

By Kathy Sykes 

“…spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song.”

—Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Rachel Carson. Image courtesy of the Rachel Carson Council.

Rachel Carson. Image courtesy of the Rachel Carson Council.

Flapping wings of osprey and eagles wish Rachel Carson a happy 106th birthday. They have much to celebrate this May 27th.  Just 50 years ago, the bald eagle seemed headed for extinction. DDT, an organochlorine insecticide, broke the hearts of mother ospreys who unintentionally crushed the thinned eggshells of their unhatched chicks.  Eagles were also disappearing. “By 1963, only 417 pairs were still raising young in the lower 48 states.” [i]

Fortunately, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring was released and described how DDT was poisoning birds and wildlife and endangering human health. Silent Spring planted the seeds of the environmental movement and captured the attention of President John F. Kennedy.

A decade later, two seminal events changed the course of history, saving birds and other wildlife from the brink of extinction. First, EPA banned DDT. Next, the Endangered Species Act was passed.  By 2006, the nation was home to nearly 10,000 successful breeding pairs of bald eagles. [ii]

Ospreys, a “close cousin” of eagles and other birds of prey, live close to waterways such as estuaries, reservoirs, rivers, salt marshes and ponds because their diet consists primarily of fish. A pair, Steve and Rachel, is nesting on Hog Island in Maine. You can become an indoor birder and watch for the chicks to hatch on a live web cam.

Appropriately named after Rachel Carson, Rachel will sit on three healthy eggs incubating them until they hatch.  I have become addicted and peek in daily. So far, I have seen brown-and-white-speckled eggs and both parents-in-waiting. I can see the wind fluff Rachel’s feathers and feel her comfort on rainy days as raindrops are repelled, sliding off or balling up on her back of oily feathers. Longing to hear her call, I found recordings on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site. (I love the internet!)

Mother osprey and chick. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service image

Mother osprey and chick. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service image

The National Audubon Society’s 10 tips show what we can all do to help the billions of birds migrating north. I plan to join the Hummingbirds at Home project and become a citizen scientist, pledge to curb my cats, drink coffee made from shade-grown beans, and forgo pesticides.

If Emily Dickinson were alive today, she surely would be a citizen scientist. I’d like to think she would have entered a poem and picture of feathers into the 7th Annual Rachel Carson contest.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.  —Emily Dickinson

Your intergenerational team has until June 10, 2013 to jointly submit an original song, poem, essay, photo, or dance. Happy bird-day, Rachel. We thank you for your dedicated work, your creativity, and leaving with us a “sense of wonder.”

About the Author: Kathy Sykes has been working for the EPA since 1998 where she focuses on older adults and the built environment and healthy communities.  In 2012, she joined the Office of Research and Development and serves as Senior Advisor for Aging and Sustainability.

 


[i] Science 22 June 2007: Vol. 316 no. 5832 pp. 1689-1690 DOI: 10.1126/science.316.5832.1689 Can the Bald Eagle Still Soar After It Is Delisted? Erik Stokstad

[ii] http://www.fws.gov/midwest/eagle/population/chtofprs.html  Retrieved on May 20, 2013

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Rachel Carson Contest 2013

By Kathy Sykes

 

“The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life.” —Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

Seven years ago, the Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder contest began with the hope that it would inspire all generations—young, old, and middle aged—to join creative forces and in their own words describe a corner of the natural world that embodies a sense of wonder.

This creative expression contest has grown in its reach and breadth by popular demand. Entries have come from across the globe and in an array of shapes and media.

A few years ago, it seemed natural to add movement and dance to the contest. So, this year we invite songwriters to join the chorus and capture the sounds of wonder with their melodies of meadows, streams, and breezes.

When I was in second grade, my father took me and my brother out of school for a half day to watch The Sound of Music. I am sure he had a number of lessons in mind he wanted us to learn by taking us to the movie theater. A history lesson on World War II was the most immediate.  But I believe he also wanted to foster an appreciation for the arts and the environment.

Hiking in the Alps.

The cinematography was amazing. The surrounding photography of the Alps from the movie left an indelible memory for me. Many years later I climbed the Austrian Alps with an exchange student from a small town in Austria and his father—something I will never forget. And yes, we sang hiking songs, too.

My parents succeeded in giving my brother, sister and me a well-rounded education engendering a sense of wonder for nature’s beauty as well as for the arts.

I invite you to share that same sense of wonder and enter the Rachel Carson Contest. Please see more information about the contest at:

http://epa.gov/research/aging/carson/index.htm.

As Rachel Carson wrote in her book The Sense of Wonder:

You can listen to the wind, whether it blows with majestic
voice through a forest or sings a many-voiced chorus…

The deadline for entries is June 10, 2013.

About the Author: Kathy Sykes has been working for the EPA since 1998 where she focuses on older adults and the built environment and healthy communities.  In 2012, she joined the Office of Research and Development and serves as Senior Advisor for Aging and Sustainability.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Rachel Carson y la expansión de la conversación acerca del ambientalismo

(Esta entrada fue publicada inicialmente en inglés en el blog de la Administradora)

Por la administradora Lisa P. Jackson

Esta semana se conmemora el 50mo aniversario de la publicación del innovador libro de la ecóloga Rachel Carson, Primavera Silenciosa, en el 1962. Para el 1970, se había establecido la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de EE.UU.

Eso no fue una casualidad.

La Primavera Silenciosa de Rachel Carson lanzó el movimiento ambientalista de hoy en día y cambió el mundo en el cual vivimos.

En su libro, Carson discutió el uso amplio y perjudicial de ciertos plaguicidas, especialmente el DDT, una sustancia tóxica que por poco elimina nuestro símbolo nacional, el águila calva. EPA prohibió el uso de ese plaguicida en 1972.

La obra de Rachel Carson ayudó a los estadounidenses a hacer las conexiones entre su salud y la salud del medio ambiente.  Sus esfuerzos ayudaron a encender la conversación acerca del ambientalismo en Estados Unidos.

Una de mis prioridades como administradora de EPA ha sido el continuar lo que Rachel comenzó al trabajar para expandir la conversación acerca del ambientalismo. El acercar a las personas a dialogar acerca de asuntos ambientales es esencial. Queremos que las madres y los padres sepan cuán importante es el aire, agua y tierra limpia para su salud y la salud de sus hijos.  Queremos continuar  fomentando la participación de áfrico-americanos y latinos para ampliar la conversación acerca de los retos ambientales para que podamos abordar las disparidades de salud que resultan de la contaminación que afecta a las comunidades de bajos ingresos y minoritarias. Se logrará la justica ambiental cuando todo el mundo disfrute del mismo grado de protección de los riesgos ambientales y a la salud y tengan el mismo acceso al proceso de toma de decisiones para tener un medio ambiente saludable donde viven, aprenden y trabajan.

A pesar de que hemos alcanzado un gran progreso desde la publicación de la Primavera Silenciosa, todavía tenemos mucho trabajo por hacer.  Las enfermedades del corazón, el cáncer y enfermedades respiratorias son tres de las cuatro amenazas fatales a la salud en los Estados Unidos. Estas representan más de la mitad de las muertes en la nación y las tres están vinculados a causas ambientales.  Los asuntos ambientales son asuntos críticos para la salud y necesitamos que todos los estadounidenses participen en esta conversación.

Rachel Carson ayudó a enseñarles a muchos estadounidenses que, aunque quizás no se consideren como ambientalistas, los asuntos ambientales sin lugar a duda juegan un papel importante en su salud y el futuro de la nación.

Su mensaje permanece tan cierto y tan crítico en la actualidad como lo fuera hace 50 años atrás.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Rachel Carson and Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism

Haga clic en la imagen para unirse a la conversación en nuestro blog en español... ¡No olvide de suscribirse!

Cross-posted from the Administrator’s Blog

By Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of ecologist Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking 1962 book Silent Spring. By 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was established.

That’s no coincidence.

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring launched the modern-day environmental movement and changed the world we live in.

In her book, Carson discussed the widespread and detrimental use of certain pesticides – especially DDT, a toxin that almost wiped out our national symbol, the bald eagle. EPA banned the use of that pesticide in 1972.

Rachel Carson’s writing helped Americans see the connections between their health and the health of the environment. Her efforts helped ignite the conversation on environmentalism in America.

One of my priorities as administrator of EPA has been to continue what Rachel began by working to expand the conversation on environmentalism. Bringing people together around environmental issues is essential. We want mothers and fathers to know how important clean air, water and land are to their health and the health of their children. We want to continue to engage African Americans and Latinos and expand the conversation on environmental challenges, so we can address health disparities resulting from pollution that affects low-income and minority communities. Environmental justice will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

Though we’ve made a great deal of progress since Silent Spring, we still have much work to do. Heart disease, cancer and respiratory illnesses are three of the top four most fatal health threats in America. They account for more than half of the deaths in the nation – and all three have been linked to environmental causes. Environmental issues are critical health issues, and we need all Americans to participate in this conversation.

Rachel Carson helped show many Americans that, though they may not think of themselves as environmentalists, environmental issues invariably play a role in their health and in the future of the nation.

Her message remains as true and as critical today as it was 50 years ago.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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