Rachel Carson at a microscope, American Experience/RetroReport image. Did Carson’s work cause an increase in malaria? Is she to blame for continued malaria deaths? No, answers a short film bonus to “Rachel Carson,” the 2017 PBS film.
A straight up, historic look at the question of Rachel Carson’s fault in stopping malaria.
Anti-environmentalists and corporate hoaxsters argue that Rachel Carson should be blamed for an imaginary increase in malaria deaths, after the U.S. banned DDT use on crops.
In conjunction with WGBH’s American Experience film on Carson released early in 2017, this short film focusing on malaria as a continuing plague puts to rest the idea that Carson should be blamed at all.
Soaking in the bathtub, we find the film not strident enough in defense of Carson; but for those strident nuts who claim Carson a murderer, it may have some good effect. And of course, you, intelligent dear reader, will be persuaded more gently.
Where malaria is the question, DDT is not the answer. Where malaria still exists, it’s not Rachel Carson’s fault.
One could quibble, and point out that it’s the malaria parasite that does the dirty work, more than the mosquito; but it’s only a quibble.
Short film from Bill Gates explaining why he helps wage war on the lowly mosquito. Use of science to find ways to defeat mosquito-borne disease transmission is especially important in the post-DDT world, since DDT resistance now aids every mosquito on Earth.
There are about a dozen different diseases that are spread to humans by mosquito bites including dengue, yellow fever, Zika, chikungunya, and malaria. This little mosquito actually kills more humans than any other thing.
As a journalist, this guy has a piece of a world-wide scoop.
India is probably the last nation on Earth producing DDT. In the last decade other two nations making the stuff got out of the business — North Korea and China. For several years now India has been the largest manufacturer of DDT, and far and away the greatest user, spraying more DDT against malaria-carrying mosquitoes, sand flies, and agricultural and household pests than the rest of the world combined.
As if an omen, India’s malaria rates did not drop, but instead rose, even as malaria rates dropped or plunged in almost every other nation on Earth.
Under the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) signed by more than 150 nations (not including the U.S.), DDT was one of a dozen chemicals targeted to be phased out due to its extremely dangerous qualities, including long-term persistence in the environment and bioaccummulation, by which doses of the stuff increase up the food chain, delivering crippling and fatal doses to top predators.
A perfect substitute for DDT in fighting some disease-carrying insects (“vectors”) has never been developed. Health officials asked, and the Stockholm negotiators agreed to leave DDT legally available to fight disease. Annex B asked nations to tell the World Health Organization if it wanted to use DDT. Since 2001, as DDT effectiveness was increasingly compromised by resistance evolved in insects, fewer and fewer nations found it useful.
The site Mr. Nazakat linked to is up and down, and my security program occasionally says the site is untrustworthy. It’s obscure at best. Shouldn’t news of this type be in some of India’s biggest newspapers?
I found an article in theDeccan Herald, confirming the report, but again with some
India-United Nations pact to end DDT use by 2020
India-United Nations pact to end DDT use by 2020
New Delhi, August 26, 2015, DHNS:
It would be better to switch to another insecticide, says expert
India has launched a $53 million project to phase out DDT by 2020 and replace them with Neem-based bio-pesticides that are equally effective.
India is the lone user of DDT, though only in the malaria control programme, while rest of the world got rid of the chemical that has a lasting adverse impact on the environment.
India on Tuesday entered into a $53 million (Rs 350 crore) partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), United Nations Environment Programme and the Global Environment Facility to replace DDT with safer, more effective and green alternatives.
“As per the plan, the National Botanical Research Organisation, Lucknow, tied up with a company to produce Neem-based alternatives for the malaria programme. The production will start in six months,” Shakti Dhua, the regional coordinator of UNIDO told Deccan Herald.
Till last year, the annual DDT requirement was about 6,000 tonnes that has now been cut down to 4,000 tonnes as the government decided to stop using it in the Kala-Azar control programme.
A recent study by an Indo-British team of medical researchers found that using DDT without any surveillance is counter-productive as a vector control strategy as sand flies not only thrive but are also becoming resistant to DDT.
“It would be better to switch to another insecticide, which is more likely to give better results than DDT,” said Janet Hemingway, a scientist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. While the Health Ministry wanted to bring in synthetic pyrethroids, the United Nation agencies supports the bio-pesticides because of their efficacy and long-lasting effects.
“The new initiative would help check the spread of malaria and other vector-borne diseases. These include botanical pesticides, including Neem-based compounds, and long-lasting insecticidal safety nets that will prevent mosquito bites while sleeping,” Dhua said.
Ending the production and use of DDT is a priority for India as it is a signatory to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) of 2002 that seeks to eliminate the use of these chemicals in industrial processes, drugs and pesticides. DDT is one of the POPs.
The clock is counting down the last years of DDT. Good.
If events unroll as planned, DDT making will end by 2020, 81 years after it was discovered to kill bugs, 70 years after it was released for civilian years, 70 years after problems with its use was first reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 58 years after the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, 50 years after European nations banned some uses, 48 years after the famous U.S. ban on agricultural use, 19 years after the POPs Treaty.
Photo from the World Health Organization (WHO), the lead agency in fighting malaria. “A child dies every minute from #malaria in Africa http://goo.gl/46QhJq #WorldMalariaDay”
One day dedicated to education and spurs to action to beat malaria.
Amazingly, there are ways to get it wrong. Please avoid them.
Don’t claim that all we need to do to beat this nasty disease is shoot environmentalists and poison the world with DDT. Don’t claim that health workers who risk their lives to prevent malaria with bednets, are misguided. No, Rachel Carson didn’t kill millions with false claims against DDT (in fact, she tried to keep DDT viable as a key tool to fight malaria, but we failed to listen to her in time).
You might kick in $10 to Nothing But Nets, and save a life in the most effective anti-malaria campaign in the last 50 years. In fact, I recommend it.
Found a good infographic today, on how to identify poison ivy — the bane of every Boy Scout and Scouter west of the Mississippi, and east of the Mississippi, too.
From TreksInTheWild.com, via Daily Infographic
Poison ivy leaves turn a beautiful scarlet in the fall. This beauty prompted English ship captains dropping off colonists in New England to take the potted vines back to England.
It is my experience that, while everyone can become allergic and react to poison ivy, no one reacts on first serious exposure. If you’re in the woods, it’s good to know what this stuff is, and avoid it.
If you’re exposed, wash it off. Wash your clothes with some sort of oxidant (oxygen bleach for colors, or chlorine bleach if you don’t care); I use a 3:1 solution, water to chlorine bleach, to shower with after serious exposure. The active chemical, urushiol, remains active until it is reacted chemically or by ultraviolet light — and so a young Scout who gets some ivy sap under his fingernails can continue to spread the exposure everywhere he scratches, until his hands are really washed clean.
Study the poster, learn to identify the stuff. There’s a lot more to say.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
I’m running behind in listing some of the articles, but since Utah Rep. Rob Bishop first alerted me to the stupidity raging on Rachel Carson‘s reputation, DDT‘s dangers and malaria, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub hosted more than 200 articles on the topics.
Postage stamp honoring Rachel Carson, part of the “20th century environmental heroes” set from the South Pacific nation of Palau, PlanetPatriot image
Overwhelmingly, the evidence is that Rachel Carson was right, DDT is still dangerous and needs to be banned, but malaria still declines, even with declining DDT use.
Logo of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs Treaty) Wikipedia image
In the stuffy talk of international relations, the Stockholm Convention in this case refers to a treaty put into effect in 2001, sometimes known as the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty (POPs). Now with more than 152 signatory nations and 178 entities offering some sort of ratification (not the U.S., sadly), the treaty urges control of chemicals that do not quickly break down once released into the environment, and which often end up as pollutants. In setting up the agreement, there was a list of a dozen particularly nasty chemicals branded the “Dirty Dozen” particularly targeted for control due to their perniciousness — DDT was one of that group.
DDT can still play a role in fighting some insect-carried diseases, like malaria. Since the treaty was worked out through the UN’s health arm, the World Health Organization (WHO), it holds a special reservation for DDT, keeping DDT available for use to fight disease. Six years ago WHO developed a group to monitor DDT specifically, looking at whether it is still needed or whether its special provisions should be dropped. The DDT Expert Group meets every two years.
Stockholm Convention continues to allow DDT use for disease vector control
Fourth meeting of the DDT Expert Group assesses continued need for DDT, 3–5 December 2012, Geneva
Mosqutio larvae, WHO image
The Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention, under the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO), allows the use of the insecticide DDT in disease vector control to protect public health.
The Stockholm Convention lists dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known at DDT, in its Annex B to restrict its production and use except for Parties that have notified the Secretariat of their intention to produce and /or use it for disease vector control. With the goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating the use of DDT, the Convention requires that the Conference of the Parties shall encourage each Party using DDT to develop and implement an action plan as part of the implementation plan of its obligation of the Convention.
At its fifth meeting held in April 2011, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention concluded that “countries that are relying on DDT for disease vector control may need to continue such use until locally appropriate and cost-effective alternatives are available for a sustainable transition away from DDT.” It also decided to evaluate the continued need for DDT for disease vector control at the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties “with the objective of accelerating the identification and development of locally appropriate cost-effective and safe alternatives.”
The DDT Expert Group was established in 2006 by the Conference of the Parties. The Group is mandated to assess, every two years, in consultation with the World Health Organization, the available scientific, technical, environmental and economic information related to production and use of DDT for consideration by the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention in its evaluation of continued need for DDT for disease vector control.
The fourth meeting of the DDT Expert Group reviewed as part of this ongoing assessment:
Insecticide resistance (DDT and alternatives)
New alternative products, including the work of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee
Transition from DDT in disease vector control
Decision support tool for vector control.
The DDT expert group recognized that there is a continued need for DDT in specific settings for disease vector control where effective or safer alternatives are still lacking. It recommended that the use of DDT in Indoor Residual Spray should be limited only to the most appropriate situations based on operational feasibility, epidemiological impact of disease transmission, entomological data and insecticide resistance management. It also recommended that countries should undertake further research and implementation of non-chemical methods and strategies for disease vector control to supplement reduced reliance on DDT.
The findings of the DDT Expert Group’s will be presented at the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, being held back-to-back with the meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Rotterdam and Basel conventions, from 28 April to 11 May 2013, in Geneva.
Nothing too exciting. Environmentalists should note DDT is still available for use, where need is great. Use should be carefully controlled. Pro-DDT propagandists should note, but won’t, that there is no ban on DDT yet, and that DDT is still available to fight malaria, wherever health workers make a determination it can work. If anyone is really paying attention, this is one more complete and total refutation of the DDT Ban Hoax.
Rachel Carson’s ghost expresses concern that there is not yet a safe substitute for DDT to fight malaria, but is gratified that disease fighters and serious scientists now follow the concepts of safe chemical use she urged in 1962.
We've been soaking in the Bathtub for several months, long enough that some of the links we've used have gone to the Great Internet in the Sky.
If you find a dead link, please leave a comment to that post, and tell us what link has expired.