Theo Colborn, the Great Lakes, and the Discovery of Environmental Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

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Date: January 21, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Location: Faculty/Administration #2339 | Map
656 W. Kirby
Detroit, MI 48202
Category: Lecture

The Humanities Center is proud to present as part of its Brown Bag Series, a talk by Marsha Richmond, History, Professor



Industrial pollution was hard to escape in the 1970s, especially in the Great Lakes region. Decades of industrial dumping led the Rouge River to catch fire near Zug Island in October 1969. Responding to public alarm (and to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, 1962)—the Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970 and Environment Canada in 1971. Biologists also were increasingly concerned about the impact of persistent toxic chemicals, especially PCBs, on Great Lakes fauna and began to commission dedicated studies. In 1988, Canadian officials hired Dr. Theo Colborn (1927-2014), a Conservation Foundation and World Wildlife Fund biologist, to produce a systematic study of reported problems in 15 keystone species. Her 1990 findings sent shock waves throughout scientific and government circles. Rather than causing cancer, as expected, Colborn found clear cases of developmental deformities. A hunt soon commenced to identify causes of such abnormalities. She announced the findings in 1991: manmade chemicals in the environment—“endocrine disrupting chemicals” (EDCs) they called them—could interfere with embryonic development in humans and animals. How studies of Great Lakes pollution led to the discovery of EDCs is the focus of this talk.

These talks are free and open to the public! We also provide free coffee, tea and cake!


Humanities Center




Academic Staff, Alumni, Community, Current Undergraduate Students, Faculty, Parents, Prospective Students, Staff

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