Groups Say DDT Use for Malaria Control Threatens Public Health;

World Health Organization Schedules Press Conference on Use of DDT for

Malaria, 9-15-06

Efforts to use DDT are being challenged by groups who say that the health

hazards of the chemical are not warranted given the availability of safer

alternatives for malaria prevention.

Sep 14, 2006, 01:00 ET from Beyond Pesticides

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- As the World Health Organization
 announces its new policy on the use of DDT for malaria control in
 developing countries, environmental and public health advocates warn that
 good intentions are in this case misguided. According to the Washington,
 DC-based non-profit organization Beyond Pesticides, advocating a reliance
 on pesticides, especially DDT, as a silver bullet solution for malaria
 protection is extremely dangerous. When the underlying causes of pest
 problems are not adequately addressed, then a sustained dependence on toxic
 pesticides like DDT causes greater long-term problems than those that are
 being addressed in the short-term.
     "Given the well-documented adverse health effects associated with DDT's
 toxic properties and its persistence, the international community has a
 social responsibility to reject the use of this chemical and practice sound
 and safe pest management practices at the community level that prevent
 insect-borne diseases like malaria," says Jay Feldman, executive director
 of Beyond Pesticides. Mr. Feldman's group advocates strategies aimed at
 preventing mosquito breeding sites, repellents, bed netting, larvicides,
 and development efforts that address the conditions of poverty in
 developing countries that contribute to mosquito breeding.
     Governmental agencies in the U.S. and internationally have classified
 DDT as an agent that can cause cancer and nerve damage. Worse still is the
 fact that DDT and its metabolites have been identified as endocrine
 disruptors. Proponents of DDT use often argue that "the dose makes the
 poison" so it can be used in a way in which the benefits outweigh the
 risks. However, because DDT acts as an estrogen mimic, it wreaks havoc on
 biological systems causing severe adverse effects because of exposure to
 miniscule amounts during vulnerable periods of life.
     The return of DDT for malaria control in South Africa has lead to women
 with 77 times the international limit for DDT residue and 12 times the
 acceptable limit in infants, even in families not living in treated
 dwellings. Scientists believe the widespread human contamination is the
 result of contaminated water used for fishing and drinking. This highlights
 why no society, especially developing ones, can be unconcerned with DDT's
 impact on the worldwide ecosystem.
     "We should be advocating for a just world where we no longer treat
 poverty and development with poisonous band-aids, but join together to
 address the root causes of insect-borne disease, because the
 chemical-dependent alternatives are ultimately deadly for everyone," says
 Mr. Feldman.

SOURCE Beyond Pesticides