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The very first DDT was synthesized in 1874. However, the very first insecticidal use of DDT was not used in 1939 during the 2nd part of World War II when they used it to control the flea and mosquito populations that are causing typhus and malaria in massive scales. If it were so effective why was DDT banned in the US in the 1970s? Why it is also banned in some other countries? How is this chemical that was first regarded as a success has become a menace?
A book was published in 1962 entitled Silent Spring. This book was written Rachel Carson who is an American Biologist. She stressed out the environmental effects of DDT and how indiscriminate release of massive amounts of DDT in the environment can cause massive damage. This single book and research started the massive environmental movement.
People in the industrial era are known to be capitalists and they will only do something for profit without any concern for the environment. With this pivotal research, Carson exemplified that the DDT has an effect on birds and it has a massive effect on human and environmental health.
In the extensive use of DDT in the US, parts of Europe, Africa and areas around Asia mostly infested by malaria, there was partial success. There was success since the existence of malaria has dropped. However, the bad news is yet to come. Insects have gained resistance in the extensive use of DDT. This partial success was met with a massive turn of events. In tropical areas, the use of DDT was not really an effective solution because mosquitoes in the area have continuous life cycles and the infrastructures in these areas are not as good.
There was a great deal of reaction with the publishing of the Silent Spring book of Carson that a commission was set out to investigate on the effects of DDT. The Environmental Defense Fund is one of the biggest entities in the total ban of DDT and soon, DDT was banned across the entire United States. Today, many countries have followed as well but there are still industrial countries that use DDT. According to EDF, DDT was responsible for the near extinction of the Bald Eagle as well as the Peregrine Falcon.
DDT is a pesticide that becomes concentrated on animal tissues. When water is mixed with DDT, it can cause devastating effects on fish, invertebrates and insects, even those that are beneficial to the humans. For birds, DDT is not extremely toxic but with its long term effects, the birth rate of birds can decrease dramatically. The egg shells can easily break and deteriorate and it can cause premature deaths for little bald eaglets and falcon babies. The sad thing is that in the 30+ years after the last spray of DDT, it still has an effect and some people still have the traces of DDT on their metabolites.
What has been the effect of not using DDT? Well within those 30 years, malaria has not become a grave problem to the US anymore. New technologies have recognized the power of the natural and organic products to use as pesticides that are beneficial to environment and not dangerous to humans. The great thing is that the ban of DDT was the biggest victory for wildlife especially for birds since endangered species did not go extinct and those that are of very small populations have been spared.
Imagine if DDT was still used profusely within 30 years. Aside from birds, many fish and insect populations would have become extremely endangered. There will be even less drinkable water in the country and the environment would have been a very different place.
Though DDT is yet to be studied further for cancers, it still has a great deal of effect for people especially for women. Birthrates are lowered when exposed to DDT. Mothers also have lower breast milk. Kids have lower weights when they give birth. Premature deliveries are more frequent. Again, studies are yet to be done. However, if there is a great deal of effect to the environment where we live, do you think DDT can really affect the health and overall quality of life of citizens?
In the case of malaria, the fact has been established years ago with the rampant use of DDT. As early as those decades, significant resistance to DDT has been recorded on mosquitoes in the later part of the use of this pesticide. Then and there, is has been established that DDT was already backfiring on the humans. Today, malaria cases are caused by a multitude of reasons and there is yet a method that can be used to minimize the existence of malaria causing mosquitoes.
EDF has made a treaty to make sure that the use of DDT is contained, controlled and set in a controllable environment. Using DDT for outdoor applications is strictly prohibited. DDT in very small amounts can be applied to indoor infestations. The use of DDT is only possible if there are no other safe, reliable and affordable alternatives present in the areas. The aim here is to minimize the wildlife and human effects of using DDT on outdoor settings.
The fact remains that malaria is a very damaging and rampant issue in many countries especially in the African continent. There is continuous effort in eradicating mosquito populations to controllable and easily manageable levels. Until now, no affordable alternatives to DDT are available. That is a fact that still remains. Right now, many are trying to take advantage of organic and natural chemicals from flowers to mitigate the pests. These chemicals are being used by expert pest controllers, specialists in the pest control field. As you can see, commercial products are still very scarce in this technology.
DDT is much cheaper. That is an aspect that is a big concern in many countries. It is a concern that needs to be addressed. Scientific communities across the world are trying to address the issues regarding pests and mosquitoes. Some cannot be destroyed by mere pesticides and DDT is not as effective in other regions. It is an effort though to allow the use of DDT only in indoor areas. As much as we want to eradicate malaria, there is also a need to retain the balance of nature and recognize the importance of the various species of animals. The big population of mosquitoes only shows that there is a great imbalance in the local environment and undeniably in the global setting as well. Studies are still being made to find better ways.
Right now, many specialists at pest control agencies are taking part of the cause by only using products that are not harmful for outdoor and indoor use. It is really difficult to eradicate insect populations. They grow and multiply very fast and they can easily out-number the human population. Humans however, cannot sacrifice the ecosystem for the purpose of removing mosquitoes. It is a critical balance and it is a very big task. In the US, many are supporting organic alternatives. People are slowly becoming more aware. In other countries, there is yet a technology and pressures from world environmental institutions to inform countries about the effects of DDT to wildlife.
Bed Bug Effected
The fact is that per country or region, there will be a different point of view in the use of DDT. In Africa for example, when they tried a unique approach in malaria control and completely removed the DDT, there was a sudden increase in Malaria rates. When they returned to DDT, Malaria became controllable. The fact is that DDT is still a recommended product by WHO but only under controlled usage. Countries that use DDT should only use a certain percentage of the chemical on products
In countries like Sri Lanka, when DDT was stopped due to the diminishing Malaria cases, it has sprung to a great number again by 1968. When DDT was reintroduced, the mosquitoes have become immune to the product so Malathion, a more expensive but very potent chemical was used ever since. Different regions have different concerns. The effects of DDT are still being studied but in the United States, the use of DDT was banned and the existence of other pests is addressed by using other products.
DDT remains to be a very useful product for some. It is a menace for others and it is used sparingly by specialists for pest control. Let us all be honest. Everything we use in large amounts, in excessive amounts is tantamount to devastating effects. If in the 1930s, DDT were studied first before being used extensively, there could be a much more different perspective in the use of this chemical. The fact is that capitalism has led to hype on a product that in few years time would backfire dramatically.
This is a lesson learned for all people especially in the modern times. The use of DDT needs to be controlled and finding alternatives is still pending. While we still have all these things happening, we need to find better options and make sure to properly price them for the world to benefit.
DDT Contaminated Egg
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