UC SAN DIEGO: SILENT SPRING ESSAY CONTEST UC SAN DIEGO. The San Diego Center for Ethics in Science and Technology is once again coordinating a yearlong ...

The San Diego Center for Ethics in Science and Technology is once again coordinating a yearlong project for a common reading experience as well as programming related to a single book. This year's controversial book is Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which mobilized people the world over—and in a way no other comparable work of twentieth century nonfiction had. Besides raising our consciousness about ecology and launching the modern environmentalist movement, Carson's sobering exposé inspired a 1972 ban that brought an end to the use of DDT in the United States.

In addition to the book’s content, the context of the publication - Carson’s own history as a woman in the sciences and in the academy – and the institutional backlash surrounding the book’s controversial messages – are also parts of the rich (and often contentious) moral and ethical history of this country’s experience of science, gender, political economy, and social courage.
Prompt: With a specific argument, consider a modern social challenge with direct relationships to issues raised by the content and/or context of Silent Spring. Explain the central ethical concern related to this issue; outline the stakes of this issue, and consider who the primary stakeholders are. Finally, offer (at least) some general thoughts on how best to navigate this issue. As part of your argument, you may wish to discuss Silent Spring directly, but it is not a requirement for submission.

Deadline for submission: March 15, 11:59 p.m. to ethicscenter@ucsd.edu.
Formatting: Your essay should be 1200-1500 words. Essay must be in Times New Roman 12 pt font, double-spaced with 1" margins all around. You may cite outside sources, but it is not a requirement. If you do cite sources, please include a Works Cited page.

UCSD Level-
1ST PRIZE: $300
2ND PRIZE: $150
3RD PRIZE: $50

The winning essay at UCSD will be submitted for consideration in the regional competition.
Regional Level-
1ST PRIZE: $600
2ND PRIZE: $300
3RD PRIZE: $100

Judging Criteria:
To be eligible to participate, you must be a current student enrolled at UC San Diego.
Essays that meet the Submission Requirement will be scored on the four criteria listed below.
Significance: Identify and address a challenge that is of significant concern in the area of science and/or social justice stemming from your reading of Silent Spring.
Social or Ethical Principles: Explicitly identify the principles that are relevant and important to your consideration of the issue(s).
Stakeholders: Identify those who are directly or indirectly affected by the conduct or products in question, and explain why.
Solution: Explore one or more solutions (general or specific) to the ethical/social dilemma(s), (at least) briefly detailing some of its/their likely implications.

If you have any questions, please email ethicscenter@ucsd.edu.


"Late Lessons from Early Warnings: Science, Precaution, Innovation."   
New report:  EEA Report No 1/2013  http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/late-lessons-2
The 2013 Late lessons from early warnings report is the second of its type produced by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in collaboration with a broad range of external authors and peer reviewers. The case studies across both volumes of Late Lessons from early warnings cover a diverse range of chemical and technological innovations, and highlight a number of systemic problems. The 'Late Lessons Project' illustrates how damaging and costly the misuse or neglect of the precautionary principle can be, using case studies and a synthesis of the lessons to be learned and applied to maximizing innovations whilst minimizing harms.
Collaborative on Health and the Environment


Environmental Health Chat: New Podcast Series
"This podcast series, which will release a new podcast each month, explores how environmental exposures affect our health. Each short episode highlights ways researchers work in partnership with community groups to understand and address environmental health issues. We kick off the series with four informative podcasts on fracking, school siting, radon, and mercury in seafood. In addition, each podcast page has links to relevant resources and references where you can go for more information. Our goals with the Environmental Health Chat series are to highlight NIEHS-funded community-engaged research, to spread the word about important and emerging environmental public health issues to a wider audience, and to increase awareness of community-engaged research across multiple disciplines and spur new collaboration. We would love to have your feedback and ideas for future podcasts. Send e-mails to podcast@niehs.nih.gov."
 We send out this short piece on flame retardants to explain why they are dangerous,  where they are in our environment, and why Environment and Human Health, Inc. is working on a project to change the policy to better protect the public's health from exposures to them. "In 1977, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the ban of children's pajamas containing the flame-retardant commonly known as Tris because it was carcinogenic.  The pajama use of Tris was banned - but unbelievably, it is still being used today in baby products  such as nursing pillows, car-seats, crib mattresses, high-chairs, etc." Flame retardants have become ubiquitous in our environment.
Nancy Alderman, President, Environment and Human Health, Inc. http://www.ehhi.org http://ehhijournal.org  
1191 Ridge Road, North Haven, CT  06473  (phone) 203-248-6582  

Recent research suggests that chemicals used as flame-retardants are rapidly building up in the bodies of people and wildlife around the world. The concentrations of these chemicals in tissues appear to be approaching levels in American women that could harm the developing nervous systems of fetuses, infants and children.

In the United States there has been no action to regulate flame-retardants in a way that would protect human health, and instead their use continues to rise. About half of the 135 million pounds of flame-retardants used worldwide in 2001 were applied to products in North America.

Scientists who specialize in human tissue body burdens say that they haven't seen a chemical build up in human bodies and the environment as quickly as that of some flame-retardants in almost half a century. The flame-retardants are as potent and long lasting as PCB's and DDT- chemicals that began to accumulate in the environment and human tissues in the 1950's and were banned in the 1970's.  Even if many flame-retardants were banned today, they would endure in the environment for decades.

 In 1977, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the ban of children's clothing containing the flame-retardant commonly known as Tris because it was carcinogenic.  The pajama use of Tris was banned - but unbelievably, it is still being used today in baby products that are made with polyurethane foam - such as nursing pillows, car-seats, crib mattresses, high-chairs, etc. To be exposing our smallest children is truly outrageous..

Animal studies have shown that flame-retardants affect thyroid hormone functions and can impair the developing central nervous system and brain. In 1999, Swedish researchers discovered much greater amounts in human breast milk than had been detected twenty-five years earlier. Subsequent studies have found an even sharper rise in U.S. women, leading some researchers to conclude that flame retardants levels in North Americans are 10 to 20 times higher than in Europeans and are doubling at a rate of every four to six years. This has raised concern among many scientists and environmental health advocates.

Flame-retardants can cross the placenta, exposing the fetus. Infants are also exposed to flame-retardants through breast milk. Children take in flame-retardants from many sources and these will persist in their bodies though adulthood.

Researchers say the effects on children are likely to be subtle - not mental retardation or disability, but measurable changes in children's intelligence, memory hyperactivity and hearing. "We're concerned about learning and memory and some behavioral effects and hearing loss," Birnbaum said.

Dr. Linda Birnbaum, the EPA's director of toxicology, said, "there is no question that the chemicals are altering thyroid hormones. Altering thyroid hormones during fetal development can affect how the brain functions." 

What disturbs scientists the most are that some flame-retardants have striking similarities to PCB's which were widely used as insulating fluids in electrical transformers until they were banned in the 1970's because they were collecting in the tissues of people and wildlife.


ExxonMobil knew in 1984 MTBE would contaminate ground. A chemical additive to gasoline meant to make it burn more thoroughly presents a long-term contamination threat in New Hampshire, a witness testified at the trial of ExxonMobil Corp. in Concord state court. Business Week
Relocation: Getting Organized and Getting Out (GO GO)

What should you consider when you negotiate for relocation? What role do businesses and churches play? "Relocation: Getting Organized and Getting Out" is a comprehensive guide that discusses all the ways to win relocation and to obtain fair compensation for your contaminated home.


In Maine, concern over pesticide use at schools rise
The use of chemicals on school properties and other public areas has become a matter of growing public concern in a number of Maine communities. More than half of 200 schools surveyed in the state still use chemicals on school yards and athletic fields, even though state law requires that they move toward reducing pesticides.
Portland Press Herald, Maine

Report, "A Call for Safer School Grounds: A Survey of Pesticide Use on K-12 Public School Grounds in Maine," is at  http://toxicsactionorg.live.pubintnet-dev.org/sites/default/files/SafeSchoolGroundsReport.pdf  - - - it was released in mid-December.
To join or leave this listserv, visit the School IPM WWW site at http://schoolipm.ifas.ufl.edu/ and follow the instructions under "School IPM Listserv."


Beyond Pesticides

Ask your Member of Congress to support SEPA. The School Environment Protection Act (SEPA), HR 4225, is needed to protect children from toxic pesticides used in and around schools.

Beyond Pesticides' Tools for Change

Links to online resources and campaigns, also pest management information. http://beyondpesticides.org/