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