I’ve seen some folks here bashing the fact that DDT is no longer used, blaming environmentalists for childrens deaths and so on…
Here is an interesting rebuttal to that concept I found on slashdot:
Yeah, let’s kill millions of people every year, mostly children, by banning mostly harmless DDT!
What utter stupidity! The EPA’s ban on DDT has caused ZERO deaths. By 1972 malaria had been eradicated from the US, so there was no need to spray with DDT (or any insecticide) for malaria control. When there have been some small outbreaks since 1972, they have been eradicated by other, more effective, insecticides. The radical right seems to think that DDT is the only insecticide in existence – and that the EPA regulations are binding on every country in the world.
There is no ban on using DDT to fight malaria and there never has been. DDT is banned for agricultural use (and rightly so because of environmental damage) but can still be used for disease prevention. The radical right pretends that there is a ban so they can blame malaria deaths on environmentalists.
According to the EPA’s December 31, 1972 press release on the DDT ban:
“An end to the continued domestic usage of the pesticide was decreed on June 14, 1972, when William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, issued an order finally cancelling nearly all remaining Federal registrations of DDT products. Public health, quarantine, and a few minor crop uses were excepted, as well as export of the material.”
So it was still legal to use it for public health, quarantine, and to export it.
“The effective date of the EPA June cancellation action was delayed until the end of this year to permit an orderly transition to substitute pesticides”
See that? “Substitute pesticides.” Didn’t know they had those, did you?
"During the past 30 years, approximately 675,000 tons have been applied domestically. The peak year for use in the United States was 1959 when nearly 80 million pounds were applied. From that high point, usage declined steadily to about 13 million pounds in 1971, most of it applied to cotton.
The decline was attributed to a number of factors including increased insect resistance, development of more effective alternative pesticides, growing public and user concern over adverse environmental side effects…"
Again, insects had become increasingly resistand and more effective alternatives already existed.
The World Health Organization’s plan for malaria prevention in Sri Lanka after the tsunami stated:
“Endemic sporadic malaria close to the affected areas transmitted by An.culicifacies, which has been considered DDT-resistant for many years, but is still sensitive to organophosphates, such as malathion, and pyrethroids.”
The mosquitoes in Sri Lanka, as in many other parts of the world, have evolved resistance to DDT. It doesn’t work any more. In fact, that is the reason why they stopped using DDT in Sri Lanka. It wasn’t because of any ban. It was because it became ineffective. If the radical right wasn’t so busy trying to ban the teaching of evolution, they might have less trouble grasping the concept that mosquitoes evolve resistance to DDT. Fortunately, the World Health Organization does not consist of flat-Earth conservatives, so they sent malathion to Sri Lanka – which can actually kill the mosquitoes there.
Before you waste all of our time with the much-repeated claim by the right that aid organizations won’t fund DDT spraying to control malaria, I’ll shoot that claim down, too:
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria finances some DDT spraying in Somalia. USAID pays for some spraying of DDT to prevent malaria in developing countries.
According to a news story from the July 18, 2005 issue of The Monitor (Uganda), Dr Herbert Wilson Lwanga, the Executive Director of the Community Welfare Services, said his agency had received funding for DDT spraying programs from the Global Fund…