Friday, June 01, 2007

A DDT Myth

Increasingly I have been arguing with public- health and some conservative friends re the bans on DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons. They seem to think that it is responsible for the increase in malaria in Africa.

They mean well, but they are wrong. If DDt is used properly it is no threat-- if it is not, it is another kind of threat. Carel Brest van Kempen explains the whole matter in a birthday tribute to Rachel Carson:

"There's even a widespread misconception that the worldwide DDT ban has increased the danger of malaria in the tropics. Actually, the worldwide DDT ban prohibits only agricultural application. It is still commonly and effectively applied to indoor walls and bednets to deter Anopheles mosquitos, which in general are less resistant to the chemical than they would have been without the ban."

Proper use of such poisons is no threat to the environment. IMPROPER use makes mosquito populations resistant to pesticides-- which means they aren't affected by wall applications either. Evolution...

Now we just have to educate the governments, which find it much easier to simply dump chemicals...

2 comments:

cpbvk said...

Thanks for the plug, Steve. This misperception appears to have originated directly from the agrochemical industry. It is true that prophylactic anti-mosquito chemicals are unavailable to many poor people in the tropics, and no one is better placed to change that situation than the very same agrochemical industry.

Africa Fighting Malaria said...

World Malaria Day is April 25, 2008. Africa Fighting Malaria is issuing a Call to Action to support indoor residual spraying, a highly effective, World Health Organization-approved method of malaria control – check out our interactive Africa map: http://fightingmalaria.org/issues.aspx?issue=14

Also check out our new video and support AFM's fight against malaria! http://fightingmalaria.org/AFMInAction/