last modified July 1, 2016 by strypey

Uncontested Facts about DDT

  • DDT stands for dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane.
  • DDT "is an organochlorine insecticide which is a  white  crystalline solid,  tasteless  and  almost  odourless".

1989: International Program on Chemical Safety, 'DDT and its Derivatives - Environmental Aspects'

Claims and Counterclaims about DDT

Positive and Negative Health Effects of DDT

1. "No human beings have ever been harmed by DDT"
1. DDT is a bioaccumulative poison, which causes a range of health problems.

 2. An environmentalist-led ban on DDT led to the preventable deaths of millions people from malaria

 2. Environmentalists did advocate for a ban on the use of DDT, but while its use in agriculture was banned in the 2001 Stockholm Convention, an exception was made for its use in disease control.

 3. DDT spraying is the most effective tool for malaria prevention


3 Misquito nets are more effective tools for malaria prevention than spraying insecticide.

2008: Kere et al, 'Permethrin-impregnated bednets are more effective than DDT house-spraying to control malaria in Solomon Islands'

4. DDT spraying is a safe tool for use in people's homes for malaria prevention

2006: WHO Media Centre, 'WHO gives indoor use of DDT a clean bill of health for controlling malaria'

4. DDT spraying is not a safe tool for use around people's homes for malaria prevention
5. DDT is the most cost-effective tool for malaria prevention

5. Insecticide-spraying misquito nets are more cost-effective for malaria prevention

2001: Kamolratanakul et al, 'Cost-effectiveness and sustainability of lambdacyhalothrin-treated mosquito nets in comparison to DDT spraying for malaria control in western Thailand.'

6. DDT is also useful in controlling Japanese encephalitis

7. Insecticide-spraying insect nets are more effective than DDT in controlling Japanese encephalitis

1994: Luo Dapeng et al, 'The effect of DDT spraying and bed nets impregnated with pyrethroid insecticide on the incidence of Japanese encephalitis virus infection'


 Points of Interest

  • As well as counterclaims and evidence against the claim that millions have died as a result of a global ban on DDT pushed by environmentalists, 'Rehabilitating Carson', by, published by Prospect Magazine, exposes the connection between this common anti-environmentalist claim and the tobacco lobby
  • General information about DDT can be found on the Environment Canada website 
  • 'Balancing Risks on the Backs of the poor' a 2000 article by Attaran et al, makes a pro-science defence of the safety of DDT, but the article conceals a number of typical PR tactics, such as rhetoric which pits "conservationists in rich, developed countries" against "health benefits for the poor tropics", a classic black/white fallacy. However, some useful references supporting both safety and harm can be found here. 
  • A SourceWatch article on Richard Tren, co-founder of the pro-DDT Africa Fighting Malaria, a Washington-based lobby group with an office in South Africa.
  • Official website of the Stockhold Convention on persistent organic pollutants