Rachel Carson and Her Theory of Environmental Pollution

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Rachel Carson raised consciousness of environmental pollution, environmental health and air quality in her book The Silent Spring.

Rachel Carson was an American Marine biologist, ecologist and nature writer. She is famous for her 1962 controversial book The Silent Spring that protested pesticide pollution against irresponsible American industries, in particular, those in chemical productions. As she postulated in this famous book, “For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.”

Profile of Rachel Carson

Rachel Louise Carson (1907-1964) was born in Springdale, Pennsylvania. She was educated at the Pennsylvania College of Women and John Hopkins University.  She studied genetics and zoology. After completing her master’s degree in zoology, Carson started working as a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Services.

She published her first book Under the Sea-Wind in 1941. It sold only a few copies. She also became editor-in-chief for the American Fish and Wildlife Services in 1949. The phenomenal success of her second book, The Sea Around Us (1951), helped her to devote full-time to her writing. Her next book, The Edge of the Sea (1955), was also successful.

Environmental Issues and Air Quality

In 1957, a friend wrote to her about how aerial spraying of the pesticide DDT (chemical name: dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) for mosquito control had filled birds in her sanctuary. DDT is a well-known synthetic pesticide.

Carson spent the next four years researching the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. In her eloquent masterpiece and famous book Silent Spring (1962) she presented her theory, backed up by scientific evidence, that toxic pesticides often damaged wildlife at the same time also produced long-term effects on human health.

At first, her book solicited a hostile response from the chemical industry, labeling her a “hysterical woman.” In 1963, however, a US government scientific panel supported most of Carson’s arguments relating to environmental issues. 

Rachel Carson Recognition Awards and Legacy  

Carson died of breast cancer in 1964 at the age of 56, but the movement Silent Spring she started has moved towards an activity for environmental awareness advocacy. Her research into offshore life was carried on at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts.   

Among the numerous awards of Rachel Carson for scientific and literary achievement are the Conservationist Award from the National Wildlife Federation, the Schweitzer Prize for Animal Welfare (1963) and Literary Award of the Council of Women of the US (1956).


MGovern, Una, Ed. Chambers Biographical Dictionary.  Edinburgh:  Chambers Harrap Publishers,  2002

Verma, Surendra. The Little Book of Scientific Principles, Theories and Things.  Sydney: New Holland, 2005



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