On Africa Malaria Day, Groups Say No to DDT and Advocate Safe Methods

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.

Apr 24, 2007, 01:00 ET from Beyond Pesticides

    WASHINGTON, April 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Africa Malaria Day,
 April 25, 2007, public health and environmental activists called on the
 world community to respect life, protect children, stop hazardous pesticide
 use, including DDT, and adopt what they call "sustainable programs that
 attack poverty and the conditions that give rise to insect-borne diseases
 such as malaria." Africa Malaria Day is commemorated on April 25, a day set
 aside by African governments committed to rolling back malaria and meeting
 the United National malaria-related Millennium Development Goals.
     Last September (2006), the World Health Organization came under heavy
 criticism from public health and environmental groups when it announced its
 new policy to promote 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.
     "The WHO is misleading the world on DDT, which is a known
 cancer-causing chemical, also linked to developmental effects in children.
 WHO should be leading charge to adopt 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.
     Despite WHO proclamations of DDT safety, the Stockholm Convention on
 Persistent Organic Pollutants, ratified or adopted by 144 countries but not
 the U.S., specifically commits governments around the world to the "goal of
 reducing and ultimately eliminating the use of DDT." (Stockholm Convention,
 Annex B, Restriction, Part II)
     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
     Fifty-nine environmental, public health and international organizations
 signed a statement, Preventing Malaria and Promoting Health Solutions to
 Malaria Beyond DDT, which is being released at a congressional briefing
 today. For more background information, see

SOURCE Beyond Pesticides