First of all, to those of you who are saying that DDT is perfectly safe and people who do not support DDT are ignorant, you are being very hypocritical. DDT is not a safe substance. If we had continued to use it in the excess we did during the 50's and 60's, many species would be extinct and ecosystems would have been negatively affected, and humans would definitely be experiencing the long-term sufferings of the pesticide.
I do not think it is bad to use DDT in small doses, when it is necessary. There are many alternatives to DDT in order to control diseases. For example, scientists have discovered that they can inject Wolbachia (a bacterium)into mosquitoes to prevent them from passing Dengue to humans! I think this is a truly wonderful discovery as it helps save human lives, and it has no negative implications on the environment. They are trying to find a similar way to take care of malaria. I believe that this is the proper course to take, because there are also no negative effects on humans. Moderation and balance is key. We kill nature, nature kills us.
If we added on 40 years of heavy DDT usage, I believe we would be living in a very different world... one that I don't think I would be able to survive in. I hate it that humans seem to think that their lives are the only ones that are keeping the Earth together. All lives are valuable and inter-connected. We must all work together to make things better.
I know that people do not care to hear what I have to say, and that many of you out there will think I'm just being ridiculous and a crazy "tree-hugger", but I have always supported humans and nature, and I have always waited for the day to see harmony and true happiness envelop the living world, in order to make the world a better place to live.
wow i'm amazed by how ignorant a lot of people here sounds. Links of DDT to human health effects are still fragile, maybe stronger in some animals, which means THERE ARE NO SCIENTIFIC RESULTS OF WHAT DDT DOES NEGATIVELY TO HUMAN YET. But deaths by malaria of millions are true and happening everyday. Name one person that has died directly from DDT.
And you know what? I bet if DDT had not been eradicated in the US, we wouldnt have stopped using it either. Cuz human lives are at stake.
- If you guys want DDT you want death. DDT was killing animals and killing us. Yes it was stoping malaria but it was making other daisies.
- saving wildlife is very important but terminate malaria and harmful insects more important ... however we can achieve the two purposes if we have wisdom
- DDT resistant mosquitoes developed as far back as the 1950's. The use for malarial control was never banned under the Stockholm convention. Agricultural use was restricted to increase the effectiveness of use against malaria. Only right wing anti science idiots think a ddt (for use against malaria) ban existed. For more see the video "DDT ban killed millions - wrong" on youtube.
- DDT obviously helped control Malaria cases in SEA countries before the 1970s. If DDT can control Malaria and can inhibit those insects that are resistant to our current pesticides, then I don't see no reason for the ban? Or is it because we want to produce more weaker pesticides to boost revenue taxes, increase Malaria patients to support hospitals, more death to reduce the unpreventable increase of human population, and so on. The use of mosquito nets is less helpful, and still, the Malaria Hospitals are flooded with patients.
- This article is extremely biased, links to non-scientific, non-peer reviewed articles and you should feel bad
- "They should out right ban DDT because there are newer safer and more effective forms out there now!" Please name them and show how effective they really are. Deildrin is also no longer available so we now have termites eating peoples houses. DDT did stop lots of pests. Bring back DDT!!!!!!!
- They should out right ban DDT because there are newer safer and more effective forms out there now!
I think since the lack of DDT use has caused more recorded human deaths than WWII we should have it everywhere. especially in 3rd world countries... Unless you have no care for millions of people dying horrific and painful deaths and have no heart.
Are we placing more value on an animal than on a human life?
- i think we shouldnt have ddt because it is killing animals and after so much use we wont have anymore of the animals that are left that get affected by ddt!
- I don't think such things will ever be answered with a straight yes or no. I think the WHO is handling the DDT situation in the most appropriate manner. When other, safer, effective alternatives are discovered, DDT use can be cut.
The best example of DDT's effectiveness is South Africa. Under international pressure, South Africa stopped DDT spraying in 1999 and death rates spiked up. Half of these deaths were children under five. South Africa went back to DDT in 2000 and promptly reduced malaria rates by seventy-five percent. Nevertheless, international aid agencies continue to refuse to support DDT use. They threaten to withhold aid from countries that use the pesticide. In Sri Lanka, the country’s malaria burden shrunk from 2.8 million cases in the 1940s to just 17 in 1965, due to the use of DDT
i think we shouldnt bring back DDT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- i think they shouldnt keep the ddt... i think this because it causes biological magnification which can kill more people than it would with using ddt.
- good read...i think we should get rid of ddt
- I agree with everything Tony says
Those blood-suckers, worldly known as bed bugs, are a national problem which is about to create a pandemia. There are in every state of the United States disrupting the life of everyone. Even if those pests don't transmit disease, they can be harmful to mental health. People cannot rest well at night,they stay awake all night just waiting and watching to prevent the next bite.
The enviroment cannot be more important than human lives. Just imagine a baby or a small child biten by one of those small vampires.
I am totally in favor for the return of DDT to control this infectation. Considering the traffic of people coming from third world countries, well known around the world for their poor hygiene it is time for the government to respond to the need of its citizens. DDT should be put back in the market, and at a reasonable price, not to speculate and make fortunes at citizens need.
- I am for anything that kills those blood-suckers.
Your Vote Matters
The DDT Controversy
DDT is a pesticide discovered in 1939 by Paul Müller, a lifesaving scientist with a page on our site. It was widely used in the United States and Europe to wipe out malaria by killing the mosquitoes that carry the disease. Its reputation problem began in the 1960s when Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, saying that pesticides such as DDT were ruinous to wildlife. In the 1970s DDT was banned in the United States and many other countries.
The ban set into motion a major controversy between two camps:
After the almost forty years since the ban, scientific studies have suggested a truce that has been tepidly accepted, albeit reluctantly, by both camps. Many people now believe DDT can be used as a last resort to save human life as long as its use is limited so that it cannot hurt wildlife. This can be done by spraying it indoors on walls in malaria infested areas.
The controversy has not ended. Some still press for a ban. Others press for more liberal use of DDT.
The controversy we choose to address stems from this history. Words can easily change their meaning, especially when they become associated with vitriolic rhetoric. DDT’s name has been besmirched. The very mention of it conjures up images of anti-environmentalism. Is this right?
To form your own opinion, we provide below an article on the history of DDT, along with trivia, quotes, and a timeline. Additionally, we provide links where you can read the arguments of various interest groups. Some are objective information. Others are heated, self-righteous arguments that illuminate how emotional people become discussing DDT.
The Historical Story of DDT
Malaria is a big killer today. In 2006 it killed over 800,000 people. It is a disease caused by protozoan parasites that are deposited into people by infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Think of your child receiving a mosquito bite, then dying. In parts of the world that is common, because malaria is especially deadly for children. Once infected, if the person survives, fevers can recur for years, widely limiting economic productivity. It is especially a problem, both in mortality and economically, in Africa.
The pesticide DDT has been proven very effective at killing and deterring the mosquitoes that carry the disease. DDT was discovered by Paul Müller (see his lifesaving page here) in 1939 and was used to wipe malaria, which was then quite common, out of the United States. Between 1947 and 1951 over 4,650,000 homes were sprayed with DDT in thirteen southern states, after which no more cases occurred.
DDT was thought to be a miracle pesticide and was eventually used on over 300 agricultural products. By the late 1950s over half a pound per person was sprayed in the United States. Then in 1962 Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, sprang onto the scene. It claimed that bird’s egg shells were thinning (especially those of birds such as the eagle) and other environmental problems were arising as a result of pesticides such as DDT. Because of pesticides and air and water pollution, which were also rampant, the environmental movement was born. In 1970 the Environmental Protection Agency was created. It banned DDT’s use in the United States.
Environmentalists pushing for a DDT ban seemed to have won. Other countries also banned it and some developing countries, threatened with a cut off of their economic aid, also quit using it.
But some humanitarians were upset. They claimed the ban was a death sentence to millions of people. And they had statistics. In Sri Lanka, the country’s malaria burden shrunk from 2.8 million cases in the 1940s to just 17 in 1965, due to the use of DDT. Five years after the country stopped using DDT, the number of cases had risen to 500,000. In the 1980’s Madagascar stopped using DDT and immediately had an epidemic of malaria, resulting in the death of more than 100,000 people. The humanitarians’ rage over the ban was summed up by Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park. One of his characters in the novel State of Fear says that banning DDT was “arguably the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century” and that the ban “killed more than Hitler.”
In 1998 a worldwide treaty to ban polluting chemicals known as POPS began being discussed. DDT was on their list, nicknamed the dirty dozen. Humanitarian groups formed to fight DDT’s inclusion, since malaria is a huge problem in Africa and DDT has proven to work well there. Scientific studies were performed. Confronted with their evidence, the parties to the POPS treaty agreed to grant DDT a “health-related exemption” until cost-effective, environmentally friendly alternatives could be found.
Prior to 1950, malaria was common in the southern US, infecting 15,000 people a year and killing about the same number as scarlet fever.
Beginning in 1947, 4.6 million houses were sprayed in the United States, completely eradicating malaria from the country. Similar sprayings eradicated malaria from Europe.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) began as an organization to eradicate malaria. When malaria was gone, it sought other ways to benefit America. That’s why it’s located in Atlanta, GA, in the southern US.
In India when the DDT campaign began in 1953 there were 75 million malaria cases a year and 800,000 deaths. By 1966 there were fewer than a million annual cases of malaria and no deaths.
In parts of Indonesia, 25% of the population was infected by malaria. When DDT was introduced, the rate fell to 1%.
In Venezuela, the number of malaria cases dropped from 8 million to 800 when DDT was used.
Today,malaria still kills about 2,000 children a day, most in Africa.
Quotes About DDT
Paul Müller, on his discovery of DDT:
“My fly cage was so toxic after a short period that even after very thorough cleaning of the cage, untreated flies, on touching the walls, fell to the floor. I could carry on my trials only after dismantling the cage, having it thoroughly cleaned and after that leaving it for about one month in the open air.”
“The excellent DDT powder, which has been fully experimented with and found to yield astonishing results, will henceforth be used on a great scale by the British forces in Burma, and the American and Australian forces in the Pacific and India and in all theatres.” Winston Churchill
“After having tested different chemical combinations, you…made one of the greatest discoveries within the recent history of prophylactic medicine. DDT… kills the mosquito, which spreads malaria; the louse, which spreads typhus; the flea, which spreads the plague; and the sandfly, which spreads tropical diseases.”
- Gustaf Hellström, at the Nobel Prize ceremonies
“DDT is the single most effective agent ever developed for saving human life.”
- British politician Dick Taverne
“You could eat a spoonful of it and it wouldn't hurt you."
– Dr. Donald Roberts, Professor Uniformed Services University, on DDT
“Not even one peer-reviewed, independently replicated study linking exposure to DDT with any adverse health outcomes exists.”
- Amir Attaran, 2000 British Medical Journal essay
“If there’s nothing else and it’s going to save lives, we’re all for it. Nobody’s dogmatic about it.”
- Greenpeace spokesperson Rick Hind, after Greenpeace stopped their effort to completely ban DDT
1930s - Malaria was common in the Southern United States.
1935 - Paul Müller begins a search for a new and better pesticide in Switzerland.
1939 - DDT discovered by Paul Müller.
1947 - In 13 southern states, over 4,650,000 houses were sprayed with DDT.
1948 - Paul Müller awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.
1949 - Malaria eradicated from Italy.
1951 - Malaria eradicated from the U.S.
1955 - The World Health Organization (WHO) makes plans to eradicate malaria worldwide.
1959 - More than 80 million lbs of DDT was sprayed over the US (half a pound per person).
1961 - DDT use reaches its peak. It is registered for use on 334 agricultural products.
1962 - Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring blamed environmental destruction on DDT.
1964 - Rachel Carson died.
1965 - Paul Müller died.
1969 - Residues of DDT and its metabolites (such as DDE) found worldwide.
1970 - WHO announces that malaria has been eradicated in 37 countries.
1972 - EPA bans DDT in the U.S.
1976 - WHO gives up on eradicating malaria.
1998 - POPS Treaty proposes banning DDT.
2001 - POPS Treaty grants a temporary health-related exemption for use of DDT for malaria.
Positions in Favor of the use of DDT to Curtail Malaria
American Council on Science and Health
The DDT Ban Turns 30 – Millions Dead of Malaria Because of Ban, More Deaths Likely
By Todd Seavey
A 2002 Article giving the history of DDT’s use and arguing for its continued use to prevent malaria.
by Roger Bate
An article in support of DDT.
by John Quiggin and Tim Lambert
An article in support of Rachel Carson.
The DDT Ban Myth
By Jim Norton
An article claiming that DDT was banned only because mosquitoes are resistant to it.
Environmental Defense Fund
The U.S. Ban on DDT: A Continuing Success Story
April 4, 2005
A paper stating that the treaty granting some indoor use of DDT is temporarily ok, but DDT should eventually be completely banned.
Does DDT Harm The Eggshells of Birds?
DDT, Eggshells, and Me
Cracking open the facts on birds and banned pesticides
Ronald Bailey, January 7, 2004
An article on whether or not Eggshells are harmed by DDT.
General DDT and Malaria Information and News
Daily Monitor: UN Seeks Ban DDT Pesticide, And Fight Malaria
A news article stating that the United Nation seeks to stop the use of DDT worldwide by 2020.
World Health Organization
World Malaria Report 2008
A comprehensive look at the problem of malaria.
Centers for Disease Control
Malaria: Vector Control
An article on various methods of eliminating mosquitoes, the carriers of malaria.