Class Year




Document Type


Distinguished Thesis


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department or Program

Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Glenn Adelson

Second Advisor

Chad McCracken

Third Advisor

James M. Lundberg


This study focuses on the change of popular opinion of the pesticide DDT in the United States between the years of 1945-1972. One of the primary uses of DDT was against malaria-carrying mosquitoes, which it eradicated before being banned in 1972. A key problem with DDT, despite saving many lives by killing disease-carrying insects, is that it stores in the fatty cells of animals (including humans) that ingest it, rendering it dangerous in the long term. Current scholarship focuses on the role of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in bringing the issue of the safety of pesticide use, specifically DDT, from a private discussion among scientists and legislatures to a public forum. Unlike previous studies, this one looks at the archives of the widely-circulated magazines LIFE and Popular Science to assess public opinion of DDT.