Rachel Carson doc tells the environmentalist's inspiring life story

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Before Rachel Carson became the mother of the modern environmental movement, she was stuck in a job that paid the bills but left her restless.

A new documentary revisits Carson's days as an information specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1930s and '40s, where at first she filed mundane reports about the agency's conservation work. 

It was in that role that Carson learned about DDT — a potent pesticide that farmers sprayed indiscriminately over their crops. Carson exposed the chemical's widespread environmental damage in her groundbreaking 1962 book, Silent Spring. 

SEE ALSO: Hawaii's bees are now protected under U.S. Endangered Species Act

Her work inspired President John F. Kennedy to launch the first U.S. investigation into the public health risks of pesticides, which later prompted policymakers to create new safeguards for protecting the environment. 

The PBS documentary Rachel Carson draws on the biologist's own writings, letters and recent scholarship to tell her inspiring life story. The film features the voice of actress Mary-Louise Parker as Carson, who died in 1964 after a long battle with breast cancer.

Rachel Carson premieres as part of PBS' American Experience program on Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. ET.

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