FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 23, 2012

ACS to recognize Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring for Landmark contributions to chemistry, Oct. 26 in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 22, 2012 — Rachel Carson’s 1962 classic, Silent Spring — a book that forever changed the way society and science relate to the world around us — will be recognized as a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society (ACS) on Oct. 26 during the Rachel Carson Legacy Conference at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“Rachel Carson could not have imagined that her words and ideas would so profoundly change the way modern Americans think today,” said Nancy B. Jackson, Ph.D., immediate past-president of ACS. “Silent Spring presented a new perspective on humans’ role in the world around them, and the quality, rigor and compelling tone of her book caught the attention of readers nationwide, including policy makers and journalists at the highest levels of influence. Silent Spring led to a paradigm shift of great significance that set the stage for the more sustainable science we practice today.”

On behalf of ACS, Jackson will present a plaque honoring Carson’s Silent Spring to Wenying Xu, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs for Chatham University.

A Springdale, Pa., native, Carson was a life-long naturalist with scientific degrees from Chatham University (formerly Pennsylvania College for Women) and the Johns Hopkins University. Silent Spring, written by Carson in 1962, caused national controversy by challenging the widespread indiscriminate use of agricultural pesticides that was common at the time and arguing for stricter governmental regulations of chemicals. The years following the publication of Silent Spring saw the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passing of numerous laws protecting the environment and human health, including a ban on domestic use of DDT in 1972 due to its widespread overuse and harmful impact on the environment.

Carson’s ecological perspective — a belief in the interconnectivity of insects, birds, animals and mankind with the environment — provided a new framework of understanding where humanity is not the center of life on Earth, but a part of nature. Her work has had profound implications on the practice of chemistry, including the advent of green chemistry, and the design, development and implementation of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of substances hazardous to human health and the environment.

The ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement will present a panel during the conference titled, “The Impact of Silent Spring — Fifty Years of Chemistry Practice.” Panelists will discuss perspectives on the evolution of the practice of chemistry in academic, industrial and public arenas over the last 50 years. A full schedule of conference activities is available at www.chatham.edu/rachelcarson.

ACS established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize seminal events in the history of chemistry and to increase awareness of the contributions of chemistry to the well-being of society. Other events recognized through this program have included the world’s first synthetic plastic, the discovery of penicillin, the development of Tide® laundry detergent and the work of notable chemists such as Joseph Priestley and George Washington Carver. For more information about the program, visit www.acs.org/landmarks.

ACS established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize seminal events in the history of chemistry and to increase awareness of the contributions of chemistry to the well-being of society. Other events recognized through this program have included the world’s first synthetic plastic, the discovery of penicillin, the development of Tide® laundry detergent and the work of notable chemists such as Joseph Priestley and George Washington Carver. For more information about the program, visit www.acs.org/landmarks.

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Members of the public are welcome to attend the Rachel Carson Legacy Conference at Chatham University on Oct. 26. Registration costs $50. Students with a valid ID may register for $20. To register or to obtain more information, visit www.chatham.edu/rachelcarson.