Ensure proper ventilation of your office space. Computers,
monitors, printers, and copiers are all significant sources of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, which are flame retardants in a multitude of
commercial products. The chemicals are also endocrine disruptors that affect thyroid hormones.
Fool Me Once
and other personal care products that are marked
cosmetics industry is woefully unregulated, and companies often use
reassuring labels that carry little meaning. Many of these products
masking fragrances to cover up a chemical smell; these fragrances in
turn may contain phthalates, which are endocrine disrupting compounds
been associated with cancer, impared fertility, and male birth defects.
Look instead for products marked "fragrance free."
Choose clothing made from natural, untreated
materials whenever possible.
Fabric treatments may
emit toxic chemicals, so avoid clothing marked with such labels as "shrinkproof," "stain resistant," and "waterproof."
Institute offers information about precautionary steps people can take
to reduce exposure to suspect chemicals, whether in the home, community, nation, or world.
Tools of the Trade
Silent Spring Institute has launched a new website that focuses on the power of science and
advocacy to identify the environmental links to women's health, especially breast and other hormonal cancers. Designed for scientists, activists, and
concerned individuals alike, the site offers useful tools to navigate news and information.
A number of interactive tools, for example,
encourage tailored investigations into the environmental links to breast
cancer. The Mammary Carcinogens Review
Database, the Epidemiology Reviews
and the Massachusetts Health and
Environment Information System all allow scientists to hone their research
and activists to
enrich their advocacy work.
For activists and concerned citizens, the website offers Take
Action, a toolkit of more than a hundred tips for
blunting the effects of an increasingly toxic world, whether in one's home,
community, nation, or world.
Complementing this section is Take
Inspiration, which profiles women whose
dedication and drive are contributing to efforts to tease out the environmental
causes of breast cancer.
Also for activists and
concerned citizens is an expanded section of the website, Breast Cancer and the Environment, with such features as A
Day in the Life video, which follows a woman as she moves through an ordinary
day - and
unconsciously swims through a toxic soup. This section helps remind us that
most personal care products sold in the United States contain chemicals
that have never been assessed for safety; some even list known human
carcinogens on their labels.
"This new website reflects Silent
Spring's growth and
national discussion about the connections between the environment and women's
health," says Julia Brody, PhD, executive director of the Institute. "In the 15
years since it was established, the Institute has grown from a small band of
scientists and activists looking for answers about the breast cancer epidemic
on Cape Cod to a nationally recognized
environmental health research center. The Institute has developed new ways for
scientists and activists to collaborate and created new tools to aid in its search for
answers. As more people across the country become engaged in a dialogue on
environmental issues, Silent Spring has an important role to play in informing
In Other News
new Silent Spring Institute study warns that ponds in residential areas with high septic system use are contaminated
with pollutants that may be harmful to the health of humans and wildlife.
Institute scientists monitored the presence of chemicals in half a dozen
groundwater-fed ponds on Cape Cod, where more
than 85 percent of residential and commercial properties use septic systems. In samples from ponds in
higher residential density areas, the researchers detected both a greater
number and a higher concentration of contaminants, especially steroidal hormones
and pharmaceuticals. Particularly alarming was the presence of estrogenic
hormones at concentrations approaching those that induce physiological
responses in fish, such as the feminization of males. "It
is worrisome that we are finding these contaminants in groundwater-fed ponds,"
says Laurel Stanley, PhD, lead researcher of the study. "Septic systems are not
getting rid of pharmaceuticals and hormones, and these contaminants are getting
into the groundwater, which is used extensively for drinking water." Human health effects of
the detected contaminants may include reproductive disorders, hormonal cancers,
and antibiotic resistance. The study, which has already
appear in the November print edition of Environmental
Toxicology and Chemistry. To read a summary of the findings, click here.
Criscitiello, a glaciologist working
toward her doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently raised
nearly $10,000 on behalf of Silent
Spring Institute by climbing the highest mountain in North
America. Criscitiello ascended Denali in Alaska both to
challenge herself and to challenge others to support the Institute's research.
"I was very excited," Criscitiello says, "to be able to fulfill this
personal goal while supporting a cause I care passionately about: finding ways
to prevent breast cancer and reduce women's exposures to potentially dangerous
chemicals in the world around us." To view photos of her
- Two Silent Spring
Institute scientists - Julia Brody, PhD, executive director, and Ruthann Rudel, senior
scientist - have
published an article reviewing evidence
on environmental factors related to breast cancer initiation and development.
Published in Breast Diseases: A Year Book
Quarterly, the article encapsulates the Institute's extensive review last
year of evidence from animal and human studies. "One of our goals in writing
this paper," says Rudel, "was to create a summary for doctors - and for patients
to share with their doctors - to support conversations about environmental factors
and breast cancer." To read the article, click