Out of Control Policy Blog

Post-Tsunami Malaria Threat Calls for DDT

As a follow-up to Ted Balaker's earlier post on malaria and DDT, I saw that Tech Central Station ran a piece today by CEI's Angela Logomasini in which she argues for the emergency use of DDT to prevent the tsunami death toll from rising even higher as a result of malaria:

    "Imagine that every year the world suffered from six or more tsunamis producing the horrific death toll recently experienced. That's how many people die every year from malaria alone, and the tsunami may contribute to even higher rates this year. That disaster has created new habitat suitable for the proliferation of malaria and other disease-carrying mosquitoes.

    Public health officials can take steps to reduce the impact, one of which involves using the controversial pesticide DDT. Since the 1960s green activists pushed bans of the substance around the world based largely on false claims about its health affects. The result was a public health disaster -- contributing to skyrocketing malaria rates.

    . . . .

    The tsunami disaster certainly warrants emergency use of DDT -- as some environmental activists admit. But equally clear is that the annual malaria disaster in Africa and other parts of the world warrants its use around the world today and as long as it is needed in the future."

And the Washington Times agrees:

    "The butcher's bill from the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia and East Africa last month is broaching the 200,000 mark. That number, as tragic as it is, could be increased by some magnitudes if something isn't done immediately to halt the onset of malaria, which has already been detected in Indonesia. Yet, inexplicably, the most effective way to combat malaria – spraying the insecticide DDT – is not being used by the world's leading aid organizations. Instead, we're giving those most at risk bed nets. Why? Because of baseless Western fears that DDT is more dangerous to humans than malaria, which causes 2 to 3 million deaths every year."

However, not everyone agrees, though I personally find this argument less than persuasive. I suspect that JunkScience.com's Steven Milloy wouldn't find it persuasive either.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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