Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘DDT’

April 18, 2010

Rachel Carson: "A Sense of Wonder"

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

A Sense of Wonder Trailer from Film Sprout on Vimeo

On this Earth Day Week a remembrance of the life and work of Rachel Carson is seems more needed than ever. If you’re looking for a film that captures her spirit and the history of the time, please tune into “A Sense of Wonder” a docudrama completed last year and now being broadcast again on PBS.

Carson wrote “A Silent Spring” the groundbreaking environmental book documenting the effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds. Carson’s thesis was that the chemical DDT had been found to cause thinner egg shells and result in reproductive problems and death.

She faced grand opposition from the chemical industry when the book was finally published in 1962. In 1999 Time Magazine wrote:

“Carson was violently assailed by threats of lawsuits and derision, including suggestions that this meticulous scientist was a “hysterical woman” unqualified to write such a book. A huge counterattack was organized and led by Monsanto Company, Velsicol, American Cyanamid — indeed, the whole chemical industry — duly supported by the Agriculture Department as well as the more cautious in the media.” 

Carson died in 1964 of breast cancer. She was 57.

There’s a National Wildlife Refuge in Wells, Maine named in her honor.

February 20, 2008

Pelicans to come off endangered species list

After 40 years of being on the precipice of extinction the Brown Pelican is poised to be removed from the national endangered species list, according to recent announcement by the U.S. Interior Department. See: Los Angeles Times report

The pelicans were put on the endangered species list after the use of the pesticide DDT caused catastrophic reproductive failure in the late 1960s. The pesticide affected pelican eggs and the reproductive health on these majestic birds. When DDT was finally banned in 1972, the pelican population slowly made a rebound. Now at least 70,000 breeding pairs of pelicans now live in California and Baja California.

IBRRC treats hundreds of sick and injured pelicans each year at its two bird centers in California. Most recently, pelicans have been affected by domoic acid or algae bloom outbreaks along the California coast. And fishing line injuries continue to rise as man encroaches on more of this birds’ habitat.

The legacy of DDT is still with us. Scientific studies say that the ocean floor off the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Southern California remains highly contaminated by the pesticide. The Montrose Chemical Company, a Torrance manufacturer of DDT, dumped pesticide laden wastewater into storm drains from 1947 to 1983. An estimated 1,700 tons of DDT made its way to the Pacific Ocean. DDT settled on the ocean floor and the EPA is still dealing with the issue. Since 1985, fish consumption advisories and health warnings have been posted in this area because of elevated DDT and PCB levels. Bottom-feeding fish are particularly at risk for high contamination levels

Read more reports on the EPA website: Palos Verdes Shelf DDT information.