Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bryan Leyland: “Things you know that ain't so" - DDT


As the American humorist Will Rogers said: “It’s not what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” 

“Things that you know that ain't so"

“DDT is dangerous and banning it was justified.”

In her book, “The Silent Spring" Rachel Carson claimed that DDT was seriously reducing wild bird populations in spite of the fact that the evidence showed an increase since the introduction of DDT. 

The World Health Organisation scientists examined Rachel’s claims and concluded that there might be good reasons for banning its use outside houses but it was quite safe and very effective if used inside houses. Their political masters ignored their advice and decided on a universal ban. In 1972 an investigation by the  US Environmental Protection Agency recommended that DDT should remain available for use. The administrator of the EPA ignored this advice and banned DDT. The US government picked this up and threatened to stop aid for any country using DDT.

The DDT ban has probably killed more than 100 million people – many of them children. Before the ban, malaria and other insect borne diseases were in steady decline and in the Southern United States and many other countries malaria had been reduced or eradicated.

In the Pacific malaria, chickengunya and dengue fever are on the increase. In Africa, the situation is much worse. These mosquito borne diseases could be eliminated easily and safely by spraying the inside of houses with DDT. 

In 2006 the World Health Organisation world cleared DDT for use inside houses. But the unfounded belief that DDT is dangerous overrides the scientific evidence so few countries use DDT and people continue to get sick and to die.

In Africa, Ebola has killed 10-20,000 people: in 2012 500,000 died from malaria. A return to reason would save millions of lives. 

"Things you know that ain’t so" is a weekly column by Bryan Leyland exposing the truth behind popular misconceptions. 

3 comments:

Geoff Bourke said...

But one of the world's greatest problems, the elephant in the room, is that we are breeding too fast - particularly in Africa, where all the foreign aid is just making the situation worse by indirectly encouraging more breeding, which means more aid will be wanted in the future. Are AIDS, Ebola, and factional war, etc - usually in areas of high population density - Natures way of reducing the population?

Anonymous said...

I wonder what name-calling the Greens have come up with when faced again with contrary facts to their religion.
As an off topic aside, I recall reading Bruce Ames years ago pointing out nature produces far more - quantity and strength - toxins than man made. Plants have had billions of years to perfect their amoury
Peter

Ron Smith said...

Welcome, Brian!