Today in 1972 the EPA banned DDT in the USA (oh my, thats a lot of acronyms!). DDT was used as an agricultural pesticide after the second World War. Although its been banned,DDT residue is still found in some foods grown in the U.S. in 2002. It is still used by other countries, especially in the third world.
Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” tells of the dangers of the pesticide DDT and was ultimately responsible for its banning and consequently began environmental movement. DDT was also used as an insecticide against the malaria carrying mosquito. I found this secondary school online module that explains DDT’s chemistry and its effects and this fact sheet and evaluation from a University.
Having taken courses in Environmental Studies I know a little about the DDT issue. Carson’s book was required reading and it was also taken up in chemistry and ecology classes. But for arguments sake lets take a look at this article and this one which are for the use of DDT.
Definitely, biologists are against DDT because of its impact on bird populations and the resulting chain effect on other species populations. But according to the articles DDT may be applied to the environment in a way that is safe and responsible. The articles fails to tell us how. Mostly, it attacks the suggestion that DDT is a carcinogen and fails to address the issue of environmental damage. I’m inclined to stay on Carson’s side, who is herself a chemist, because she explains, in a way anyone can understand, exactly how DDT affects the environment and ultimately us humans.
This document written by Dr. Romeo Quijano, founding Director of PAN (Pesticide Action Network) Philippines, clarifies the issues regarding the use of DDT which has been banned in the Philippines since 1994. He tells us first hand of the dangers to health and his skepticism regarding those touting its use. (Read about Dr. Quijano’s plite with the government in 2003).
The good news is that scientists have discovered that waters polluted with DDT can be controlled by the unlikely seeweed which somehow absorbs DDT much like it does other toxins.