DDT was successfully used for several years to control insect populations such as mosquitoes. However, in the 1970s, subsequent research studies on the safety of this insecticide proved that it was not safe for other animals. In other words, the toxic nature of DDT was found to be indiscriminate.
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Although the findings of these studies are still being debated up to today, the insecticide has been banned from the point of production up to its marketing. The US National Toxic Program has labeled this insecticide as “moderately toxic”. In addition, both the psychiatric and neurological complications have been associated with DDT.
Hence, its toxicity is known to be chronic in nature. Towards the end of the 1980s, this insecticide was classified as a carcinogenic substance by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Hence, it is a potential cancerous agent. In addition, poor child development and reproductive problems have equally been linked with the exposure to DDT sprays.
DDT has also been classified as a serious threat to the environment. Several categories of animals are negatively affected whenever they are exposed to the particles of this chemical component. Some of the health complications include:
- Poor reproduction and development.
- Premature demise of birds and impaired immune system of animals.
- Affects both the kidney and liver.
- Sexual development is hampered among several animals.
- The marine food chain is truncated because the quantity and quality of tiny animals are reduced.
- General life on earth has been impacted by DDT because some traces of this chemical component were identified in animal samples in the Arctic region.
The above aspects account for some of the factors that led to the DDT ban in countering the spread of malaria. However, Fred Soper had a unique idea that would have eradicated further growth and spread of malaria parasites. According to Fred Soper, governments across the world failed to run simultaneous malaria eradication programs.
Road blocks were not set anywhere even after spraying the targeted spots where mosquito parasites were breeding. In addition, stopping the use of DDT to control mosquito population without putting an alternative in place was a grave mistake. Soper concluded by observing that governments lacked a disciplined program of eradicating the spread of malaria parasites.
DDT should not be brought back to the market as a viable insecticide for controlling the spread of malaria if its chemical components have not been revised. It is worth to mention that the toxic nature (whether acute or chronic) of DDT has proved to be gross towards the survival of various animal species. The overall health impact of DDT on the environment can hardly be ignored. In any case, the economic and health benefits of using DDT as an insecticide are far below the overall negative impacts to the planet.
Nevertheless, proponents of using DDT in controlling the spread of mosquitoes and malaria are still of the opinion that:
- The chemical has been successfully used to combat malaria in India and Europe. Therefore, it offers the best alternative in the fight against malaria.
- The cost of DDT as an insecticide is relatively low and therefore easily affordable to various segments of the population across the world. In addition, the product is free of issues of patents.
If such proposals are put into consideration in reviving the use of DDT, then the long term outcomes will be injurious to both mankind and other animal species.