A little-known American company has been giving plastic a special touch called fluorination for 40 years. After the EPA discovered treated containers can leach “forever chemicals,” the company refused to stop.


September 28, 2023 at 2:00 AM PDT

Kyla Bennett, an ecologist and attorney in Easton, Massachusetts, subscribes to a school of thought called antispeciesism, which considers the preferential treatment of any animal species over another, humans included, to be unethical. So she’s long railed against the use of chemicals to kill insects, especially over a 26-square-mile stretch of freshwater wetlands and soggy woodlands near her home. For thousands of years, the Wampanoag people sought refuge and sustenance in the area and considered it alive with spirits. Today it’s called the Hockomock Swamp and retains lore of the paranormal, with reported sightings of Bigfoot and UFOs, but it’s mostly a place to walk dogs and paddle canoes. It’s also home to an uncommon species of mosquito that carries a rare but highly lethal brain-swelling virus called eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE. To curb its spread, state officials have long used a pesticide named Anvil 10+10, spraying it from airplanes overhead.

Bennett is 62, with a slight frame and salt-and-pepper shoulder-length curls. She cherishes the Hockomock, not least for its vernal pools, small bodies of water that ephemerally appear every spring and dry up by fall. Countless species use them to breed; her favorite is the blue-spotted salamander. “There is something meditative about vernal pooling,” Bennett says. “Putting on your waders and scouring the pools for life. I just love it.”

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