Chatham University

Proclamation for the 50th Anniversary of Silent Spring

*Rachel Carson’s words are in italics. This was incorporated into her testimony to Congress on June 4, 1963.

WHEREAS the total consequences to humans and Earth’s renewable resources from the present widespread and often unrestrained dissemination of toxic substances into the environment are only vaguely known and some effects cannot yet even be surmised; and

WHEREAS The indirect and untoward effects of pesticides, insecticides, rodenticides and kindred chemicals are frequently long delayed, difficult to trace and apparent safe minimal accumulations in air, soil, water, fiber, food and all tissues can in time accrue to harmful or even lethal levels; and

WHEREAS these toxicants often have a profound latent effect on flora and fauna not originally intended for suppression or eradication; and

WHEREAS of the 100,000 synthetic chemicals in commercial use today, fewer than 200 have been directly tested for human health effects; and

WHEREAS bio-monitoring of a representative sample of Americans shows that the population, including newborn infants, has accumulated at least 212 synthetic environmental chemicals in their bodies indicating exposure to mixtures of synthetic environmental chemicals from multiple sources; and

WHEREAS definitive health effects in humans are unknown for the majority of the environmental chemicals found in at least 90% of the population; and

WHEREAS in cases where government regulations have limited continued exposure of the population to such substances as lead, DDT and passive cigarette smoke, levels in the population have shown a steady decline; and

WHEREAS these toxicants are among the most potent ever known and such new incompletely evaluated substances are being developed annually; and

WHEREAS some lethal agents can be purchased anywhere by anyone without adequate controls to guard against their misuse;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: that the present state of knowledge dictates a policy of caution, inquiry, maturity of judgment and statesmanship; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United States adopts a policy of preventing contamination of air, water and soil through public information, industry incentives for green chemistry approaches to production, strict enforcement of pollution limits, positive and negative incentives for continuous reduction of toxic environmental chemicals from industrial processes including energy production; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health undertake independent public health and epidemiological studies to address the cumulative public health effects of the mixtures of synthetic chemicals to which the public is exposed on a daily basis, with recommendations to reduce such exposure on a continuously improving basis; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United States affirms in all of the policies and practices of government, public and private entities and individuals, its commitment to international leadership in protecting clean air, pure water, fertile ground and the biodiversity of life for this generation and all of those to come.