University of Vermont

University Communications

Devra Davis to Speak on Environmental Health Hazards

Release Date: 03-23-2004

Author: Cheryl Ann Dorschner
Phone: 802/656-4308 Fax: (802) 656-3203

Is it true that each year, 10 times more people die from avoidable environmental contamination than perished in the September 11th attacks? How could “yo-yo dieting” promote cancer? What does air pollution have to do with breast cancer?

World-renowned epidemiologist and environmental author Devra Davis has long documented that daily exposure to low levels of pollution contributes to a broad spectrum of diseases and reported how industry and government have hidden information from the public. At the University of Vermont’s Carpenter Auditorium in the Given Building on Thursday, March 25 at 12:30 p.m., Davis will make a compelling case for changing public health policies.

In her book, “When Smoke Ran Like Water: Tales of Environmental Deception and the Battle Against Pollution,” – a National Book Award finalist – Davis showed how cancer and health problems are linked to exposure to avoidable environmental contaminants. She also reported on promising environmentally sound and efficient technologies and business practices.

Davis told the stories of the 1952 London Smog, when deaths were falsely attributed to influenza; behind-the-scenes machinations by oil companies and auto manufacturers to keep lead in gasoline; and the pollution that killed 20 people and forced others – survivors of the 1948 smog emergency in steel-mill town Donora, Pennsylvania – to live with chronic health problems. Davis grew up in Donora.

“One of the things that makes “When Smoke Ran Like Water” so powerful is that Davis hasn’t merely studied the data, she’s lived them,” Newsweek said of Davis, who is now visiting professor at Carnegie Mellon University, honorary professor at London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and advisor to the World Health Organization. Her research has appeared in professional journals and national media including PBS’s “Now with Bill Moyers,” C-Span, BBC and NPR.

Her free, public lecture is sponsored by UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, College of Medicine, College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the Environmental Program. For more information call 656-4380 or go to