Rachel Carson launched the modern environmental movement. Her 1962 book Silent Spring focused worldwide attention on the harm to human health and the environment caused by indiscriminate pesticide use.
Carson, a marine biologist, was a writer at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. She was concerned that DDT and other pesticides could contaminate waterways, soil and plants and kill non-target species, including birds and fish. Scientists had documented the effects of certain pesticides on the environment, but Carson — a gifted writer — explained these ideas in terms the general public could understand. Speaking on television and in congressional hearings, she didn’t call for a ban on pesticide use, but rather for more research and tighter regulations.
In 1970, Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency. The federal government conducted a review of pesticide policies and, in 1972, banned DDT in the United States.