NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

DDT: A SYMBOL GONE AWRY

February 21, 2006

Third world countries with malaria epidemics need dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), say the editors of Scientific American Magazine. Unfortunately, wealthy countries often do not fund aid involving DDT, as studies prove agricultural uses of DDT cause animal deaths. However, DDT saves lives when sprayed in houses, says Scientific American -- as shown by spraying in countries that can afford to fund the programs themselves.

Consider DDT's worldwide success:

  • In India, deaths from malaria plummeted from 800,000 annually to almost zero for a time.
  • South Africa's province KwaZulu-Natal went from 6,000 cases of malaria to almost zero after spraying began.
  • In less than two decades the pesticide controlled malaria in many countries.

Furthermore, house spraying costs less than other alternatives and requires little DDT. For example, a 100-hectare field uses 1,100 kilograms of DDT, while the interior surface of a house merely uses half of a kilogram.

Health professionals support the targeted use of DDT as an important part of the malaria solution, say the editors of Scientific American.

Source: Editors, "Tackling Malaria," Scientific American Magazine, December 2005.

 

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