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Teaching Unit: "Better Living Through Chemistry?"

The materials provided below were developed from a workshop titled "Toxic Environments/Toxic Bodies," which took place at ASEH's Baton Rouge conference in March 2007. They include a transcript of the workshop and two teaching units: one for undergraduate students and one for high school students. An introduction to the teaching units, instructions, and historical documents are provided below. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Toxic Environments/Toxic Bodies articles in Environmental History

Workshop TranscriptTeaching Unit Introduction

Plastics and Environmental health - High School Unit

Plastics and Environmental Health - Undergraduate Unit

Historical Sources

Historical Sources for Lessons

Describes the sources provided for each lesson. the list is organized for the undergraduate unit. the high school unit uses several of these same sources, but not necessarily in the same order.

Lesson 1

Mather-Petroleum-Today and Tomorrow-12.19.47

News from Du Pont-NYT display ad-1.3.56

World of Union Carbide-NYT Display ad-1.9.61

Time Magazine Cover-11.27.64

The Master Technicians - Printout - TIME-1964

Harris-HealthProblemsinPlastics-1953

MCA-Vinal Chloride Safety Sheet-1954

Silent Spring-Chapters 1-3

Test Tube Tale - 1941

Lesson 2

Darby-Silence, Miss Carson-1962

Delaney-Investigation..Use of Chemicals in Foods-1.3.51

Harding-Plastics Public Relations-3.9.71.pdf

MCA-Plastics Committee-Chemicals in Foods-11.15.51

Merrill-Food Safety Regulation-1997

Plastics World-Where do we stand-1971 

Lesson 3

Viola - Response of Rats to VC - 1971

Union Carbide Internal Memo-5.31.73.pdf

Cohn-Plastics found in Bloodstream-1.18.72.pdf

Sherman - Goodrich Employee Dies - 1975

Weiner - Cancer, Chemicals and History - 2005

Scranton - Critique of Deceit and Denial - 2004

Rosner & Markowitz - Response to Scranton

Kennedy - Chemical Corridor - 1989

Lesson 4

Soto - Testimony - 2002

ACC - BPA - Fact Sheet - 2007

Durodie - True Cost of Precautionary Regs - 2003

National Toxicology Program - 2008

Gross - Toxic Origins of Disease


View short film: "Test Tube Tale"

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