DDT Should Be Banned

DDT has for long being considered a wonder chemical since its use increased after the Second World War. DDT became preferred in fighting insects because it is very toxic to the nervous system. It was advantageous over other chemicals because it is also harmless to humans, which means it can be used to control insects without inflicting health damage to humans. During the Second World War, DDT was sprayed in landing sites in order to protect Allied troops from insects like lice and others.  It was successfully used to control spread of an epidemic of typhus-carrying lice. DDT was also successfully used to combat yellow fever, typhus, and elephantiasis by controlling insects that caused these diseases.  However, the most successful use of DDT was recorded in control of more than 60 species of mosquito that carries malaria parasite (Easton, 2005). DDT normally kills mosquito on contact. It has been used in combination with other measures like draining of swamps, spraying DDT, and others. DDT is not only used in developing countries but it is also used in developed countries like U.S, Europe, Japan, and Australia which have incidence of malaria. Indeed, DDT has been quite effective in eradicating malaria. In India, it reduced the number of deaths related to malaria from 800,000 to zero in 1960s. In Sri Lanka, it reduced deaths from 2.8 million to only 17.

The problem with DDT is that it is persistent in the environment. Although DDT is no longer used or manufactured in different parts of the world, it is commonly detected in milk of nursing mothers. It is one of the dirty chemicals that were included in 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutant. DDT is biocumulates and fat soluble. When ingested by animals by browsing contaminated vegetations, it is not excreted but remains in the fat and is increased in the food chain. Because it has high chronic toxicity, long-term exposure may lead to physiological abnormalities. This means that while DDT may be considered of use in controlling mosquitoes and other insects, it has adverse effects on human health.

Debates surrounding the banning of DDT or not revolves around the rising cases of malaria especially in the developing countries. It is reported that every year, about 300 to 500 million case of malaria are reported and between 1 and 30 million people are likely to die from the disease (Easton, 2005). Most of them are likely to be pregnant women and children. This is the official figure but most likely, this figure may increased by half when the unreported cases are considered. Epidemiological estimates show that a quarter of world population is at risk of Malaria.

DDT is however not the cure for Malaria. For more than a century, DDT has not provided complete cure for malaria and deaths from the disease continue to rise. In reality, mosquitoes have developed resistance to DDT in different parts of the world. Furthermore, to control malaria, one doesn’t need to kill the mosquito as the most effective control method would be that control mosquito bites. The use of mosquito nets has recorded success in control of malaria which means one doest not have to spray DDT to control the parasite.

After half century experimentation with DDT, it is evident that DDT will not prevail against mosquitoes and killer malaria disease. In reality, most countries have learned this lesson and effectively banned the use of DDT because of its adverse health effects and persistence in the environment. Most countries use DDT only on emergency status. There is less justification in use of DDT especially when that justification is concerned with reduction of mosquitoes. There are other better ways of living with mosquitoes rather than using DDT that pollutes our waters, soil, and our health. Therefore DDT should be banned.

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