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BannedA History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology$
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Frederick Rowe Davis

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780300205176

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300205176.001.0001

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Rereading Silent Spring

Rereading Silent Spring

(p.153) Chapter 6 Rereading Silent Spring

Frederick Rowe Davis

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, a bestseller which alerted Americans to the hazards of insecticides. Carson's prose revealed hazards found with the indiscriminate use of DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons. With the exception of malathion, organophosphates posed greater risks to humans and wildlife. However, organophosphates had one notable advantage over DDT and the chlorinated hydrocarbons: organophosphates broke down into relatively harmless components over the course of weeks or even days, whereas chlorinated hydrocarbons accumulated in ecosystems and the bodies of wildlife and humans. In general, Silent Spring painted a sharp picture of toxicological risk in layman's terms.

Keywords:   insecticides, Rachel Carson, DDT, chlorinated hyrdocarbons, organophosphate

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