Farewell to Theo Colborn

Marking the passing of an influential environmental scientist


Theo Colborn, an influential environmental scientist, died Dec. 14 at age 87, in Paonia, Colorado. After spending years as a pharmacist and sheep farmer in western Colorado, she decided to study watershed science, earning her doctorate at 58. Her Great Lakes doctoral research found manmade chemicals harming fish and wildlife; the findings helped introduce scientists and policymakers to the consequences of endocrine disruption.

Theo worked as a congressional research fellow and then a scientist for the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C., and helped organize the first gathering of researchers studying endocrine-disrupting chemicals in 1991.

Her 1996 book, Our Stolen Future, coauthored with J. Pete Myers and Dianne Dumanoski, explained how chronic exposure to chemical compounds in flame retardants, pharmaceuticals and fragrances is stunting human development and increasing the incidence of cognitive and behavioral disorders, infertility, thyroid problems and cancers. In 2003, Theo founded The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), a research clearinghouse. She received many awards for her work, including the TIME Global Environmental Heroes award, in 2007, and the Jonathan Foreman award from the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, in 2014.

“She was a visionary,” says Carol Kwiatkowski, executive director of TEDX, “(with a) commitment to uncovering the truth and sharing that information.”

In our Dec. 22 issue, the cover story, “The Dust Detectives,” left off a portion of the name of the institution employing atmospheric chemist Kimberly Prather:  The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla. The article “Descent through time” mistakenly identified Georgia Tech paleontologist Jenny McGuire as Jess Miller-Campe. On the Letters page, the Stevens cartoon wasn’t quite as funny as it should have been, since the words dropped off when we placed the final art. The caption reads, “Your meal will be out shortly. The salmon was a little wilder than we anticipated.”

Alert reader John Karon of Albuquerque, New Mexico, sent us a note about our obituary for activist Martin Litton: “I am likely the 1000th person to send in the correction that Martin was NOT the oldest man to raft the Colorado through Grand Canyon, but the oldest to row his own dory through the Canyon.” Thanks, John.

The restoration project map in our Dec. 8, 2014, cover story “The Great Salmon Compromise” had a typo and a misplaced label. The Pend Oreille River comes out of Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho, but it enters the lake as the Clark Fork.

In our Nov. 24 story on trains carrying crude oil, “a sunny weekend afternoon in July” became one in September, due to an editorial mixup. HCN regrets the errors; we all got nice big lumps of coal in our stockings.

Image from protecthealth.org

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