Monday, September 18, 2006

92 million avoidable deaths later . . .

The World Health Organization announced Friday that it will ACTIVELY promote the use of DDT in developing nations. This is the best public health decision in four decades.

Malaria is a debilitating disease that is almost entirely preventable by spraying small amounts of DDT inside dwellings and buildings in areas where malaria-infected mosquitoes reside. There is no other preventative that is as effective, as inexpensive and as usable as DDT. But the politics of the pesticide, from Rachel Carson's preposterously wrong Silent Spring to William Ruckelshaus' dreadful decision to overturn the findings of EPA administrative law judge Edmund Sweeney who found no basis to ban DDT after months of testimony and reams of evidence, have infected decisions on whether to use DDT for generations.

That political calculation has been deadly: more than 13 billion cases of malaria, and over 92 million deaths, have occurred since Ruckelhaus' decision. A true tragedy, considering that, as the WSJ noted, "[T]here is no evidence that DDT use in the amounts necessary to ward off malarial mosquitoes is harmful to humans, wildlife or the environment. Period."

[Note: link may not work -- subscriber only article on]

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