DDT: A symbol gone awry

Third world countries with malaria epidemics need dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), say the editors of Scientific American Magazine. Unfortunately, wealthy countries often do not fund aid involving DDT, as studies prove agricultural uses of DDT cause animal deaths. However, DDT saves lives when sprayed in houses, says Scientific American – as shown by spraying in countries that can afford to fund the programmes themselves.

Consider DDT's worldwide success:

  • In India, deaths from malaria plummeted from 800,000 annually to almost zero for a time.

  • South Africa's province KwaZulu-Natal went from 6,000 cases of malaria to almost zero after spraying began.

  • In less than two decades the pesticide controlled malaria in many countries.

    Furthermore, house spraying costs less than other alternatives and requires little DDT. For example, a 100-hectare field uses 1,100 kilograms of DDT, while the interior surface of a house merely uses half of a kilogram.

    Health professionals support the targeted use of DDT as an important part of the malaria solution, say the editors of Scientific American.

    Source: Editors, Tackling Malaria, Scientific American Magazine, December 2005.

    For text (subscription required): http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=1&articleID=0003B8E3-D62A-137C-962A83414B7F0000

    For more on Environment: http://eteam.ncpa.org/issues/?c=chemicals-and-health-risks

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 28 February 2006
  • Help FMF promote the rule of law, personal liberty, and economic freedom become an individual member / donor HERE ... become a corporate member / donor HERE