DDT a problem of 30-50 years ago?

Paul Cherubini cherubini at mindspring.com
Mon Aug 7 00:55:45 EDT 2000

Jeffrey Caldwell wrote:

> What support can you give to the statement
> that "its [DDT] lack of useage kills millions of third world
> peoples each year"?

According to an article in Science News, Vol. 158, No. 1, July 1,
2000, p. 12 http://www.sciencenews.org/20000701/bob2.asp
the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates
400 million people (roughly 6.5% of the world's population)
contract malaria each year and"several million" people die from it
or from associated complications.

DDT has a track record of virtually eliminating 
malaria in regions where it has been used to spray rural homes
(e.g.in the country of Belize in the 1960's according to the
Science News article). Therefore, a reasonable 
conclusion is that bringing DDT back could prevent millions of cases of 
malaria each year and therefore potentially save a few million lives.

According to  Donald R. Roberts of the Uniformed Services 
University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md (quoted from
the same Science News article)  "Throughout the tropical Americas,
malaria is undergoing a massive resurgence" Roberts argues
the reason is largely that control programs have been 
abandoning DDT. He'd like to see more use of the chemical,
not less. "Antimalaria programs [DDT spraying]
contribute relatively little to environmental problems", he asserts. 
The Science News article goes on to say "Such use [inside 
rural homes] releases only tiny amounts of DDT, contributing little to
environmental contamination health officials say."
> Much of  the world believes that under their conditions it 
> should be used, and it is being manufactured and used in many 
> nations for malaria control.    Of course, there is more awareness
> and great concern about environmental "side effects" of such 
> programs.

According to the Science News article cited above
major DDT-production facilities continue to operate only in 
China and India.

Jeffrey, can you propose a math based model or
offer a scientific reference that could enable us to
understand how it's conceivable that spraying DDT inside rural 
homes for mosquito control could have significant
environmental "side effects"? For example, could
you come up with figures like how many pounds (or fractions 
thereof) of DDT is released into the environment
on a per square mile basis when rural homes are sprayed? 

According to the junkscience website 
http://www.junkscience.com/ddtfaq.htm peak production and
use of DDT (80 million kilograms/year = 176 million pounds/year) 
occured in 1962. Given that DDT degrades in the environment, 
albiet slowly, it should be possible to develope a mathmatical model 
that could give us an approximation of how much DDT that could 
be released into the environment (on a per square mile basis in areas
where malaria is a problem) each year without causing more than
trivial environmental "side effects". Maybe it's
an amount that could save hundreds of thousands of lives or more?

Paul Cherubini

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