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Home > Publications > Quill > Winner: Susanne Rust, Meg Kissinger & Cary Spivak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


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Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Winner: Susanne Rust, Meg Kissinger & Cary Spivak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Chemical Fallout”

Jim Poyser

Now in the news every day, bisphenol A and other endocrine disrupters were the subject of a late fall story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Take a look at your shoes, your shampoo, your carpet. Your baby’s bottles, even the dental sealants in your mouth. These products contain chemicals that disrupt the natural way hormones work inside of you. The chemicals known as endocrine disrupters are all over your house, your clothing, your car. The chemicals are even in you.

They promise to make skin softer, clothes smell fresher and food keep longer. The problem is, neither the companies that make these products nor federal regulators are telling you that some of these substances may be dangerous.

According to Editor Martin Kaiser, “A team of reporters from the Journal Sentinel set out to determine what is being done to protect the public from these chemicals. The answer: nothing.”

Scientists increasingly believe endocrine disrupters contribute to human health problems, including reproductive and development systems.

Reporters Susanne Rust, Meg Kissinger and Cary Spivak used 20 years of research and built their own database to categorize and organize the information. They surveyed numerous laboratory findings that detail damaging effects of these chemicals in animals such as fish, chicken and rats.

Extensive infographics illuminated the subject, while an audit of an ordinary household in suburban Milwaukee revealed the danger inherent in everyday life.

“The few studies that found the chemical to be harmless were almost always funded by the multibillion-dollar chemical industry,” Kaiser said.

Published in late November and early December, “Chemical Fallout” prompted the National Toxicology Program to launch an investigation.

The judges determined that this “series of stories was well written for the level of average readers, reads like a sequel to Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring.’”

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