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Friends of Silent Spring Institute Bulletin
November 2007



Silent Spring Institute offers information about precautionary steps to reduce exposure to suspect chemicals so more people can make informed decisions in their daily lives.

Air Fresheners.“Scent” as an ingredient often signifies the presence of phthalates, which are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have been associated with cancer, impaired fertility, and male birth defects. The number and variety of scented products for our homes, including air fresheners, have increased dramatically in recent years. Instead of using artificially scented air fresheners, use fresh flowers and greens. Be selective and opt for unscented products when possible.



Tap water. Since tap water is subject to stricter federal regulations than bottled water, water from a public utility is typically as safe as or safer than bottled water. If taste or water quality is a concern, a filter pitcher or a solid carbon block water filter at your kitchen sink will remove many trace chemicals and bacteria.  And to protect the quality of your drinking water for the future, support efforts to restrict development near drinking water sources.

Silent Spring Institute in the News

Silent Spring Institute helped advance the national discussion about health and the environment when the American Cancer Society published the Institute’s comprehensive review of research on environmental pollutants and breast cancer risk.

Institute initiative shows widespread exposure to many animal breast carcinogens.

Silent Spring completed an exhaustive review of scientific research and created a comprehensive list of 216 compounds that cause breast cancer in animals. The results were published June 15  in Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society.  The study, funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, revealed widespread exposure to many of these chemicals from consumer products, food contaminants, air pollutants, and workplace sources. Click to learn more about the study and access the database.

Silent Spring’s research on chemicals and breast cancer is featured in an article on, which offers an accompanying slide show on 12 breast cancer suspects, including household chemicals and tailpipe toxins.
Visit Silent Spring Institute for more information or click for article.

October’s Elle highlights Silent Spring’s Mammary Carcinogens Review Database.
Click for article.

Growing Call for Expansion of Research on Environmental Health Factors

Concerns about environmental factors were the focus of recent public health initiatives featured in the media.

Prenatal chemical exposures lead to health problems.

About 200 scientists from five continents issued a declaration warning that governments should limit chemical exposures now, before an epidemic develops from prenatal exposures. Health problems potentially linked to early exposures include diabetes, attention deficit disorders, cancer, fertility problems, thyroid disorders, and obesity.
Click for article.

Autism research targets environmental links.

While researchers once scoffed at parents’ worries that chemical exposures might trigger autism, Dr. Martha Herbert, a Harvard neuroscientist and Massachusetts General Hospital neurologist, told the Boston Globe that now "any major article or proposal concerning the causes of autism is coming to be considered incomplete if it doesn't talk about a potential role of environmental factors."  California researchers reported preliminary evidence of higher rates of autism in children born to mothers exposed to pesticides during pregnancy. 
Click for article

Environmental groups petition U.S. to regulate air fresheners.

A group of leading environmental organizations asked the federal government to crack down on air fresheners, which, scientific studies show, can aggravate asthma and pose other health risks. Scented sprays, gels, and plug-in fresheners contain harmful chemicals that have been linked to breathing difficulties, developmental problems in babies, and cancer in laboratory animals, according to the petition sent to the two federal agencies. In response to the groups’ petition filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Walgreen Co. quickly pulled three of its air fresheners off the shelves of its 5,850 stores nationwide.
Click for article.






Friends Events Celebrate Silent Spring Institute

The Friends of Silent Spring Institute organized two major 2007 fundraising events — the annual dinner in May and the Cape Luncheon & Fashion Show in July — that raised more than $500,000 for the Susan S. Bailis Breast Cancer Research Fund. 

Rachel Carson Advocacy Awards presented at Institute Dinner

On May 8, more than 400 friends and supporters joined us at For Our Mothers For Our Daughters, Silent Spring Institute’s annual dinner, held at Boston’s InterContinental Hotel. Betty Ann Blum, Linda Schwartz, and Ginny MacDowell chaired the remarkably successful evening, which raised almost $500,000.

During the dinner, Silent Spring Institute honored two exceptional women with the Institute’s Rachel Carson Advocacy Award. Ellen Calmas, founding chair of the Friends of Silent Spring Institute, was honored for working with unwavering commitment to expand the Institute’s outreach and educational capabilities. Carla Perez was honored for the wisdom and commitment that she brings to her work as a community organizer and regional director for Communities for a Better Environment (CBE). Silent Spring Institute is partnering with CBE and Brown University to expand the Institute’s landmark Household Exposure Study to urban neighborhoods in northern California.

(Click for more dinner photos.)

Cape Midsummer Luncheon & Fashion Show

Silent Spring’s fifth annual luncheon and fashion show was held on July 26 at Willowbend Country Club in Mashpee. Chaired by Elise Cherny and Lynne Elfland, this year’s event featured a spectacular fashion show by Saks Fifth Avenue and a private shopping opportunity at an on-site Saks boutique. Master of Ceremonies and Auctioneer Kelley Tuthill from WCVB-TV5 shared the inspiring personal story of her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment and her commitment to research to uncover environmental factors we can change.

(Click for more Cape Fashion Show photos.)