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Contaminants of emerging concern in the environment: Where we have been and what does the future hold?

December 1, 2018

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring alerted the nation to the dangers of manmade chemicals and indiscriminate use of pesticides. DDT was the culprit and its use threatened a variety of wildlife, including the national bird, bald eagles. In 1969, pressured by scientists and the public, the United States banned almost all uses of DDT; however, DDT was just the tip of the chemical iceberg. In 1996, Theo Colborn’s book, Our Stolen Future, again alerted the public to the dangers of chemical exposure. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals were identified as concerns because exposure to extremely small concentrations can have adverse effects on people and wildlife by interfering with chemical messaging systems, affecting things like sexual development and reproduction.