Cancer and DDT: Current information

Okay, this piece is biased, too — but they give references so you can check it out.

32 Responses to Cancer and DDT: Current information

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Ha! Way back then I said:

    Andrew, tobacco has nicotine in it, which is probably much deadlier than DDT. Flavored cigarettes have lots of other bad stuff in them.

    Why did I bother to qualify it? Nicotine is much deadlier than DDT in almost every way.


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Andrew, tobacco has nicotine in it, which is probably much deadlier than DDT. Flavored cigarettes have lots of other bad stuff in them.

    DDT residues on tobacco could easily be washed off. Tobacco companies fear word that DDT may be on the tobacco leaves, but to the best knowledge I have — and I staffed the U.S. Congress during the last big round of tobacco and health hearings and legislation — DDT was never commonly used on tobacco, at least not in the U.S.

    Frankly, there are not a lot of insects that can stand the nicotine in the plant. The chief problem for tobacco in the U.S. is air pollution. The large leaves are relatively sensitive to sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

    Dangers of tobacco are not from DDT. DDT won’t help in growing, and it would have no effect in “speeding up” aging.

    If you have information that DDT was used on tobacco outside the U.S., I’d like to see your information with citations.


  3. Andrew says:

    Cigarette doesn’t cause cancer. DDT was used on tobacco leaves.

    The fact that once cigarette especially the Indonesian kretek is used as a medical aid to help warm up the lungs of asthma patients has been turned into a killing cancer stick because of DDT used in the growing process, chemical used to speed up the aging process and additives in flavoring.

    Natural cigarette is made plucking the tobacco leaves and is cured by drying the tobacco leaves in the sun or
    in a kiln then it is left to aged 1 or 2 years period before it is made into a cigar or cigarette which uses no additives or

    chemicals in the making process.However because the manufacturers wants to make large profit by selling in volumes, they used dangerous chemical to speed up the aging process into 1 month or less.

    And to cut cost to pay the exorbitant government taxes, the tobacco manufacturers added sugar and others unknown substance for blending instead of using different quality tobacco leaves to make the cigarette for flavor, and the danger comes when the cigarette is smoked, the additives and the chemicals the manufacturer had used turns into dangerous carcinogens agents into cancer.


  4. HOLLYWOOD says:

    This Artical shows nothing about DDT.
    And Yes I agree I think DDT causes Cancer. It is found in cigerrets commonly found in its smoke. Mostly Common in Mamals. It is a pasticide. Defonition of DDT: A colorless insecticide that kills on contact. It is posinous to humans and animals when swallowed or obsorbed through the skin. DDT is an abbreviation for DichlorDiphenylTrichloroethane Defonition found at


  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Hating Rachel Carson is a personality quirk (flaw, some might say), and it has absolutely zero to do with the accuracy of the science she cited.


  6. EPA - Ego Protection Agency says:

    I hate Carson ….


  7. J F Beck says:

    Mr Darrell,

    It’s refreshing that you allow me to continue to comment – Bug Girl and Tim Lambert find me troublesome and have reacted by moderating my comments (those that are especially inconvenient disappear into the ether).

    It’s also refreshing that you’ve finally own up to making a “few errors”. It appears to me that some of your “errors” are not genuine mistakes, however, but are actually errors of commission. That is, that you are intentionally misleading. If this assumption is incorrect, you have a very poor understanding of the issues being discussed.

    I will now straighten out some of this for you.

    The corporate shills at the Pesticide Action Network show DDT as “banned” by most European countries with its importation prohibited. I assume this constitutes an outright ban.

    My Sweeney references aren’t bogus. Here he’s quoted by the April 26, 1972 edition of the Long Beach Press-Telegram (UPI):

    “The evidence in this proceeding supports the conclusion that there is a present need for the essential uses of DDT.”

    “… There is proof that, on balance with the benefits, the present essential uses of DDT … do not create an unreasonable risk.”

    “The adverse effect on beneficial animals from the use of DDT under the registrations involved here is not unreasonable on balance with its benefits.”

    “… There was ample evidence that DDT is not the sole offender in the family of pesticides, and that necessary replacements would in many cases have more deleterious effects that the harm allegedly caused by DDT.”

    The article’s title and leader: “U.S. official advocates DDT use”, “Hearing examiner claims benefits outweigh risks”.

    Interestingly, Norman E. Borlaug was involved in the DDT ban debate. The following is from the June 4, 1972 Coshocton Tribune (UPI):

    “Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, the U.S. scientist who won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his “green revolution” work in Mexico, said a U.S. ban on DDT would make his life’s work a mockery.

    “’I have spent my life working with the nations of the world to help feed themselves,’ Borlaug said. ‘I know how they will react if we terminate uses of DDT in this country and, in effect, label it poison.’”

    “’If it is not good enough for your purposes, they will reason, then it shouldn’t be used in our countries.’”

    Borlaug predicted the de facto DDT ban.

    Comparing the acute toxicities of DDT and caffeine is indeed pointless: DDT IRS will poison no one; the carrier solvent might have poisoned someone who drank the mix but there is, as far as I know, no documented instance of a single human death from acute DDT poisoning.

    Anyway, here’s hoping my input encourages you to be more accurate when posting on DDT.


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    If one assumes, erroneously as you do, that my intent was to suggest a link between breast cancer and DDT, you’d have a point. Why do you assume that? You can read back through several posts I’d made earlier where I was quite clear on the point. I didn’t make the claim in the post.

    I merely noted that the post had accurate data. This is in contrast to the yahoos who malign Rachel Carson unfairly and inaccurately, claiming DDT is “perfectly safe” and “not carcinogenic.”

    Yeah, I stick to the claim that mammalian carcinogens should be treated as at least suspected human carcinogens. So does everyone else in the world who is rational, and who cares about preventing, treating and curing cancer. That’s why the American Cancer Society lists DDT as a probable carcinogen, as does every other source you cite. Your name-calling at me when I merely cite your sources is amusing. It’s fascinating the way you cite a source and then run from it when it turns out the source denies your claim, or in the case of the mosquito resistance in Africa, turns your case on its head.

    In the real world, we’ve found it useful and safe to treat chemicals found to be carcinogenic in animals as suspected carcinogens in humans. Often later studies make the links firm. Humans are mammals, after all.

    Actually, the water tests involved repeated insults to shaved skin of the rats and mice. Water by itself is not implicated. Did you read the study? It suggests that we need to be careful in implicating things as carcinogens; it also demonstrates that there is no known substance which cannot be harmful in great enough concentrations or great enough quantities. It’s a glowing endorsement for moderation.

    Plus, it indicates that we need to pay careful attention to relative risks. For example, the human health risks of killing off birds and bats far surpass the human health risks of stopping broadcast applications of DDT, in malaria alone. So, were one concerned about stopping malaria, as opposed to concerned with slandering Rachel Carson and environmentalists, one would note that over-use of DDT is dangerous, as Rachel Carson said. You’ve almost come around in the last couple of posts, but you insist on slandering the woman who made well-known the principles, which leads me to question whether you’re concerned about stopping malaria at all.

    You’re right about toxicity of DDT in humans. Oral dosage of caffeine, it takes less on a pure weight basis than oral dosage of DDT to kill humans. Of course, the data on killing humans is quite limited (and that this measurement exists at all is a denial of any claims that DDT is not toxic to humans — it’s taken from actual, recorded human deaths). But I’ll concede your point. Caffeine is more deadly. Alas, it’s not more deadly to mosquitoes (though it is effective in killing mosquitoes by preventing larva from developing, when applied to still water — just one more means of spreading the mosquito killing among substances to avoid resistance). The only hope for Starbucks addicts is that it’s so deucedly difficult to get so much caffeine as normally ingested.

    You should also be aware, however, that the lowest oral lethal dose is not how toxicity is generally calculated. Instead we look at lethal doses that take out 50 percent of a test population. The oral dose that takes out half of a rat test population with DDT is 87 mcg/kg^-1, as opposed to 192 mcg for caffeine. You demonstrate well that careful cherry picking of data to avoid usual and accepted meanings and practices is the stock in trade of the Rachel Carson slanderer.

    But you’re right: In exceptional circumstances, it has been recorded that a lethal dose of caffeine is less than the lethal dose of DDT.

    My point on the “Sweeney” hearings is not simple, and you keep missing it. You can’t cite what Sweeney said. You’ve got one, possibly accurate news story that reports Ruckelshaus “overruled” Sweeney, but the story doesn’t give details on what Sweeney ruled, on what he was over-ruled on, nor the context of the hearings. In contrast, we have the courts noting that two advisory panels or administrative law panels at EPA recommended that DDT be banned. Now, you may accept the lie from CEI that Sweeney was the only guy — but you can’t provide information even on what Sweeney said, and we have courts that refer to the other two panels (if Sweeney’s wasn’t one of the two). So your reference is misleading. Worse, you know it’s misleading.

    On top of that, we have court orders to EPA to act against DDT. To slander Carson, it’s necessary to fib about that, too, to cover up the fact that Ruckelshaus acted by order of the courts, and not on a whim. It’s interesting. I’ve dealt with these environmental issues for years. Sweeney’s name does not appear in the environmental law texts. I challenge the Carson slanderers to produce citations, and we get a bogus citation (as the one you offered) to the Code of Federal Regulations.

    Considering that all the histories note the court orders, considering the later studies that showed EPA acted correctly, considering the absence of any corroborating data on your claims about Sweeney and considering the bogus citations, I think you have a veracity problem. In any case, had Ruckelshaus overruled Sweeney, the courts would have reinstated Sweeney’s ruling on appeal. The pesticide manufacturers took the issue to court and lost — can you explain that? Can you explain why you persist in claiming Ruckelshaus’s ruling was wrong, when the courts found it to be right?

    What is it you claim did not happen in Borneo, the deaths, or the events? The events are famous:

    Click to access Chapter%2025%20-%20The%20Careless%20Technology.pdf

    Were the deaths reduced? Were there no deaths? Let’s weigh that against the claims that Rachel Carson’s DDT ban caused any deaths at all, since 1.) Carson urged no ban; 2.) there is no tie between Carson’s book and any ban outside the U.S., which did not occur until 1972 and has caused no malaria; 3.) DDT has been available for health and anti-malaria use constantly since 1944; 4.) All the evidence shows developing countries reduced DDT use after DDT became ineffective against mosquitoes, generally because mosquitoes became resistant to DDT, and generally because DDT was used broadcast style to spray crops, not to fight malaria.

    Carson’s great contribution was in understanding science. She saw the big picture, decades in advance of others.

    Your claims of DDT bans in Europe are bizarre. First, you offer no documentation. Second, most “bans” allow use for health reasons and some crop emergencies. Third, most European nations signed the WHO agreement which specifies DDT be kept available for use. And fourth, if we assume you’re right, then the fact that malaria has been absent from Europe either documents that there is no need for DDT to keep an area free from malaria, or evidence that stopping DDT stops malaria.

    If you’ve got evidence of an outright ban, bring it. But please, if you’re going to join in saying a ban on DDT causes the spread of malaria, indicate that there is a ban on using DDT where malaria exists, and where use of DDT might be useful rather than harmful. There are no such bans, as you well know.

    So you’re calling my recounting of history “mistakes” when I do not fall prey to your misleading claims, or the misleading claims of others, is bizarre. I admit a few errors — caffeine’ll getcha if you don’t watch out.

    If you were concerned about unnecessary deaths, you’d blog against the slanderers of Rachel Carson and those who claim falsely that DDT is a great savior, those who falsely claim that environmentalists and a falsely-claimed ban on DDT killed millions — because those falsehoods, those crass lies, detract from the fight against malaria, and they do more to continue the deaths than anything else except genuine racism right now. If you were concerned about people dying from malaria, you’d get off your pro-DDT kick. It doesn’t help them.


  9. J F Beck says:

    Mr Darrell,

    Just to remind you, the title of this post is “Cancer and DDT: Current information” but the linked article mentions neither DDT nor (contrary to your claim) organochlorine pesticides. The article itself is about environmental chemicals as causes of breast cancer. In the course of our discussion you have admitted, under pressure, that “DDT is pretty well known not to cause breast cancer”. So, your original post is pointless.

    In the course of this thread you claim DDT must be a human carcinogen because “[t]here is no other substance known to be an mammal carcinogen that is not also carcinogenic in humans”. This is incorrect, as I have shown.

    Apparently some rats specially bred for laboratory use develop cancer after being injected with water. Does this make water a carcinogen?

    In the comment immediately above you claim I am wrong in claiming DDT is less acutely toxic than is caffeine. The figures follow:

    The lowest published lethal does for DDT is 500mg kg – this figure obtained via a link provided by your guy Tim Lambert.

    The lowest published lethal dose for caffeine is 192 mg kg.

    Does this not tell you caffeine is more acutely toxic than is DDT?

    You make many errors throughout comments:

    You claim that I assert that “Sweeney was involved in some secret proceeding that the federal courts don’t have” when all I actually claimed is that Ruckelshaus overrode Sweeney. I provided a newspaper excerpt from 1972 to back my claim. Many papers reported this, citing UPI as the source.

    You later erroneously claim “DDT was almost absolutely ineffective against some mosquito species that carried the nastiest forms of malaria (especially in Subsaharan Africa, the area of your concern in past posts), and partly because overuse of DDT had damaged its effectiveness almost everywhere else.” When I link to a map showing that DDT is still effective throughout most of Africa you claim the info is incorrect. You really should tell Tim Lambert; I got the map via a link he provides.

    You incorrectly claim selenium is a carcinogen.

    You erroneously claim that “[h]undreds died in Borneo of typhus and plague after DDT wiped out the predators of the vectors of those diseases”. It didn’t happen.

    You erroneously claim that I “indict environmentalists as stupid” when I never said anything even remotely similar.

    You keep raving on about how Rachel Carson did not advocate for a DDT ban. I know, I never claimed she did.

    You claim Rachel Carson was a “great scientist”. What “great” contribution did she make in her field, marine biology? For that matter, what great contribution did she make in any area of science?

    You erroneously claim that outright DDT bans do not exist when DDT is banned in much of Europe.

    That’s lots of mistakes from a guy hoping to make a big contribution to education. You aren’t very bright, are you?

    Unnecessary malaria deaths motivate me to blog DDT, by the way.


  10. Ed Darrell says:

    Generally I think that people who worry about Rachel Carson are just misled. But here, after I’ve cited for you several studies that show carcinogenicity in animals, after I point out that YOUR sources note DDT as an animal carcinogen, you say my pointing that out to you is “bogus.” Specifically, that’s a bad faith argument, contrary to all of your own sources.

    Even idiots may hold their opinions here. You’re safe.

    At the moment the greatest danger to the educational value of this blog is your posts, Mr. Beck. At least you’ve finally come around to agree that DDT is toxic. Your wild claims that DDT is less toxic than caffeine in humans is precisely the sort of misleading-to-outright false claims that mark the foaming-at-the-mouth Rachel Carson haters. You may want to see if there’s treatment available.

    You may also want to take a look at this site from the Wellcome Trust, explaining thw work of Janet Hemingway on mosquito resistance — remember, she’s the woman whose slides you misread, post before last, when she pointed out that mosquitoes across Africa are resistant to various insecticides:

    Rachel Carson was a great scientist, it turns out, having accurately warned that over-use of DDT on crops would make it much less useful, or useless, against disease-bearing mosquitoes. Rachel Carson urged in 1962 exactly the sort of program that Janet Hemingway now operates in Mexico and, I gather, in Africa. One of the tragedies of history is that some people waited 35 to 40 years to listen to Ms. Carson. Millions of people, probably mostly children, died of malaria waiting for the world to figure out what Rachel Carson wrote in 1962.

    And from your posts, its clear some still fight enlightenment. Milloy, at least, appears to be getting a paycheck to spread falsehoods about DDT. We can only wonder at your own motivations.


  11. J F Beck says:

    Mr Darrell,

    On DDT we agree on virtually nothing. DDT is acutely toxic to many insects but less so for humans: it is more toxic than table salt but less toxic than caffeine and phosphoric acid, both commonly found in colas.

    DDT’s carcinogenicity is open to debate. DDT is not known to cause cancer in humans. DDT is known to produce cancers in experimental animals (rats, mice and hamsters). This does not mean that DDT causes cancer in animals in the wild.

    Regardless, you argue that because DDT causes cancer in experimental animals it must be a human carcinogen. You claim (both here and at Bug Girl’s blog and probably elsewhere) that any agent that is carcinogenic to a mammal must be carcinogenic to humans:

    “There is no other substance known to be an mammal carcinogen that is not also carcinogenic in humans (which stands to reason, since humans are mammals).”

    Your bogus claim that DDT is a mammalian carcinogen aside (DDT is a proven carcinogen only in experimental rats, mice and hamsters), the ability of an agent to cause cancer in experimental animals is not necessarily indicative of that agent’s carcinogenicity in humans.

    Saccharin is proven to cause cancer in laboratory rats. This led to saccharin being classified as a probable human carcinogen. Further investigation revealed that saccharin is not a human carcinogen:

    “Studies in laboratory rats during the early 1970s linked saccharin with the development of bladder cancer. For this reason, Congress mandated that further studies of saccharin be performed and required that all food containing saccharin bear the following warning label: ‘Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals.’ Subsequent studies in rats showed an increased incidence of urinary bladder cancer at high doses of saccharin consumption, especially in male rats. However, mechanistic studies (studies that examine how a substance works in the body) have shown that these results apply only to rats. Human epidemiology studies (studies of patterns, causes, and control of diseases in groups of people) have shown no consistent evidence that saccharin is associated with bladder cancer incidence.

    “Because the bladder tumors seen in rats are due to a mechanism not relevant to humans, and because there is no clear evidence that saccharin causes cancer in humans, saccharin was delisted in 2000 from the U.S. National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens , where it had been listed since 1981 as a substance reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen (a substance known to cause cancer). More information about the delisting of saccharin is available at on the Internet. The delisting led to legislation, which was signed into law on December 21, 2000, repealing the warning label requirement for products containing saccharin.”

    Now if you want your blog to be some sort of educational aid, shouldn’t you at least attempt to get it right?


  12. Ed Darrell says:

    1. Good to see you’ve come around.

    2. DDT is a known carcinogen in animals, verified by dozens of studies with mice and rats. There is no disagreement there. That is all I have ever said. This is what that Lancet article says: “Mainly on the basis of animal data, DDT is classified as a possible carcinogen (class 2B) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)35 and as a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen by the US National Toxicology Program.36”

    I don’t know why you keep denying that.

    Now, if you wish to argue that the cancer risk to humans is small, that is one thing. But it is absolutely wrong to say it is not a carcinogen, when it has been determined to be carcinogenic to rodents in many, repeated studies, and your own citations confirm it.

    You have a choice: Accuracy or obnoxiousness.

    But, by the way, do you know of any carcinogen that affects all mammals, and is not carcinogenic in humans? Cancer experts don’t, and so DDT is listed as a probable carcinogen for humans. That’s the listing by the IARC and ACS, which you referred me to. There is no reputable scientist who contests that DDT is a known carcinogen in animals. There is no reputable scientist who contests that DDT is a probable human carcinogen, and should be carefully regarded therefore. And that’s exactly what the Lancet article says.

    3. & 4. It’s good to see you come around on spraying; broadcast use produced widespread environmental damage that the world has yet to recover from, due to the long lives of DDT and it’s breakdown products, DDE and DDD. I did not claim that indoor use harmed predatory animals, by the way. You’re reading stuff into what I wrote that I did not write.

    5. Look, Carson died in 1964. The limited ban, which she did not advocate, did not occur for another eight years. Carson was specific that DDT should be kept available for use fighting malaria. As the statement from the guy at WHO shows, they did not follow through — not because of any ban, but because of the breakdown of administrative tools, especially following the end (collapse?) of the malaria eradication project. Was indoor spraying “politically unpopular?” Not Rachel Carson’s fault.

    And, by the way, it was environmental organizations that kept arguing for help for African nations and other non-European, non-North American nations that needed help fighting malaria.

    The letter fairly well indicates that, had people gotten accurate information way back when, we might have made more progress fighting malaria. That’s not clear, since in many places governments simply didn’t exist to execute malaria-fighting programs.

    But that also suggests that the mean-spirited campaign of disinformation against Rachel Carson and WHO, now, has evil intent: Spreading false information kills no mosquito, corrects no past error, and produces no improvement in medical care. So quit spreading the false stuff.

    6. The reference you gave for Sweeney’s report is bogus. If we are charitable, and assume Sweeney recommended DDT production and broadcasting be increased, his would have been contrary to two other administrative law procedures in EPA that arrived at the opposite conclusion. You keep repeating the Sweeney stuff, but you never deal with the issues. Had Sweeney made such a recommendation, especially in the absence of other, contrary recommendations, it would have been illegal for Ruckelshaus to rule as he did — and we know that is NOT the case, because the chemical companies sued to overturn his order, and their suit didn’t make it out of the DC Circuit court (I think the case was dismissed, but it may have been summary judgment — either of which means Sweeney’s recommendations could not have been as your source claims).

    Since you give the bogus citation, I presume you’ve never seen the Sweeney stuff, either. Go back and look at the history. The weight of evidence was, and still is, that DDT damaged wildlife far and wide.

    As I’ve pointed out here and in other posts, the damage included killing mosquito predators, such as bats. Continued DDT use, irresponsibly, could well have led to a dramatic rise in mosquito-borne illnesses of all types, because the pests became resistant to DDT while the predators died off (due to trophic level concentration).

    7. DDT is banned in Europe? And the effect? How serious is malaria in Denmark? Get serious.

    Nor do you deal with the fact that there are several other pesticides, better targeted in many cases, available for use. Often DDT use ended because other chemicals were introduced. That’s not a problem, you know, and shouldn’t be considered so.

    8. Environmentalists insisted that DDT be kept available for anti-malaria use. You may have identified a problem, but you’re blaming innocent parties for things they did not do. As your National Geo source points out, DDT was banned from the overuse that harmed the anti-malaria campaigns, especially in agriculture. Give credit where credit is due: That DDT is effective at all is a tribute to the work of environmentalists, who prevented overuse that would have rendered DDT completely ineffective. (Jonathan Weiner has an interesting section in his book, The Beak of the Finch, a story of evolution in our time, detailing how mosquitoes acquired a new gene that allows them to digest DDT without harm; continued spraying selects for the gene, and in areas where agricultural use continued, mosquitoes may have up to 60 copies of the gene. Continued overuse would have only increased the deleterious effects.)

    9. You refer us to the IVCC report by Janet Hemingway — but it’s only a PowerPoint presentation, so it’s difficult to get details. However, it’s clear that the presentation advocates an integrated pest management approach, both to reduce malaria and to keep the mosquitoes from developing resistance to pesticides — exactly as Rachel Carson argued in 1962. The presentation was in 2005, 43 years after Carson suggested this approach. I don’t think Carson can be blamed because public health agencies were four decades tardy in seeing her point. This presentation almost exactly refutes most of the points you’ve been trying to make.

    Also, I think you’re reading the charts wrong. The map on page 5, for example, shows where mosquitoes are resistant to DDT, and also to pyrethroids. The kdr mutation discussed is generally driven by DDT application, but also confers resistance to pyrethroids. Additionally, hut or house spraying of DDT is effective only if mosquitoes land after biting; by the early 1960s, that trait was increasingly rare in African mosquitoes (see Weiner’s book, again).

    In any case, the map on page 5 shows that resistance to various pesticides is widespread in Africa, exactly as Rachel Carson warned. Consequently, DDT spraying alone is far from sufficient, as Rachel Carson noted. (There is only one place that the kdr gene seems to be absent, which would suggest only one place that DDT is wholly effective as it once was — see the purple dot.)

    You should also pay attention to the chart on page 7, which deals with house spraying in Mexico. You’ll note that the integrated pest management that Carson advocated, rotating pesticides to prevent resistance in mosquitoes, was not implemented in Mexico until 2004, 40 years after Carson recommended it. When that program was implemented, malaria dropped dramatically, as did mosquito resistance to pesticides. The evidence clearly shows that Carson was spot on.

    Are you reading the stuff you refer us to?

    10. Rachel Carson absolutely cannot be held responsible for the errors, malfeasance, misfeasance or non-feasance of WHO, the World Bank, and USAID. She argued that we should use DDT only where it works best — if these agencies refused to use it at all, it ain’t her fault. Also, even these agencies can’t work miracles where there is no government to make a mosquito control program work. Subsaharan Africa usually includes Uganda, for example. Rachel Carson didn’t put Idi Amin into power. It’s not her fault if malaria fighting suffered there during the civil war or the oppressive regime of Amin. Carson can’t be blamed for the civil wars in Congo, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, or Angola, either. Any mosquito eradication program by these agencies will depend in large measure on the efficacy of the local government. To blame Carson for failure of programs in these nations is bizarre, unwarranted, unfair and misleading.

    11. Medical care is a huge part of the equation. Good to see you come around on that.

    12. I’ll take Tim Lambert any day over people (whom I regard as evil) who spread disinformation intentionally, who argue that tobacco smoking is a good, healthy thing, or that cancer is not caused by smoking, who argue vigorously and erroneously against energy conserving lightbulbs, and who argue that companies and people should make huge profits off of victims of malaria for giving the victims the time of day, but not much more.

    Lambert does not argue against DDT, but he has a strong case against those who claim, falsely, that DDT is harmless and should be broadcast now to “eradicate” malaria. The ONLY opposition to Lambert’s view is, as I have noted, nutcases and bizarre people like Lyndon Larouche. Even were Lambert an idiot — and he’s not — we’d be safer with him than with the anti-Rachel Carson group. They’re genuinely scary and wrong.

    If everything I write about DDT is wrong, why do you agree with so much of it, and why do your sources support it? Very curious.


  13. J F Beck says:

    You points above addressed:

    1. As an insecticide DDT is indeed toxic. It is very long lived; this makes it unsuitable for broadcast use. Its persistence makes it ideal for Indoor Residual Spraying to kill or repel mosquitoes.

    2. DDT’s carcinogenicity is open to debate. Contrary to your claim, its carcinogenicity in humans has been extensively studied (a range of cancers, not just breast cancer).

    3. Contrary to your claim, DDT’s use for Indoor Residual Spraying is not, so far as I know, implicated in the deaths of predatory animals. DDT’s agricultural use has been effectively eliminated.

    4. See #3, above.

    5. Carson’s book killed no one. Silent Spring inspired environmentalists have managed to effect a de facto DDT ban, thus contributing to the deaths of many. Dr Arata Kochi, head of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme pretty much accuses environmentalists of being baby killers:

    “I am here today with one urgent message to everyone who cares about the environment. Your concern, your activism, your heroics have helped – and continue to help – protect the earth’s wildlife and nature.

    “I am here today to ask you, please: Help save African babies as you are helping to save the environment.

    “African babies do not have a powerful movement like the environmental movement to champion their well-being. They need your help.

    “Nearly one year ago, I was asked to take charge of the World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Programme. I knew the job would be a challenge. Little progress was being made in controlling malaria, even though WHO had declared – way back in 1998 – that rolling back malaria would be one of its greatest priorities.

    “I asked my staff; I asked malaria experts around the world: “Are we using every possible weapon to fight this disease?” It became apparent that we were not. One powerful weapon against malaria was not being deployed. In a battle to save the lives of nearly one million children ever year – most of them in Africa – the world was reluctant to spray the inside of houses and huts with insecticides; especially with a highly effective insecticide known as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or “DDT.”

    “Even though indoor spraying with DDT and other insecticides had been remarkably effective preventing malaria sickness and death where used, this strategy seemed to have been abandoned by most countries nearly 30 years ago. By the early 1980s, WHO was no longer actively promoting it.

    “Some people told me that there was a good reason why its wide scale use had been phased out. I was told the practice was unsafe for humans, birds, fish and wildlife; that the use of DDT in the United States in the 1950s had led to the near extinction of the bald eagle. I was told that indoor sprayingwith DDT was ‘politically unpopular.’”

    Click to access KochiIRSSpeech15Sep06.pdf

    Do you reckon he’s a tool of CEI?

    6. In banning DDT EPA administrator Ruckelshaus overrode the recommendation of Edmund Sweeney, who was tasked with weighing DDT’s use. Sweeney’s hearings were conducted in public. Ruckelshaus made his decision without broad consultation.

    7. Contrary to your claim, DDT use is prohibited in much of Europe (Norway and Sweden were the first to ban).

    8. Contrary to your claim, DDT use slowed to a near stop because pressure from environmentalists made it nearly impossible to obtain:

    “In 1962 Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, documenting this abuse and painting so damning a picture that the chemical was eventually outlawed by most of the world for agricultural use. Exceptions were made for malaria control, but DDT became nearly impossible to procure. “The ban on DDT,” says Gwadz of the National Institutes of Health, “may have killed 20 million children.”

    9. Contrary to your claim, DDT is still effective throughout most of Africa (click link below and scroll down to resistance map).

    Click to access 101_Hemingway.pdf

    10. The WHO’s Rollback Malaria was ill conceived and poorly executed. The three biggest players in the anti-malaria effort – World Bank, WHO and USAID – have pretty much refused to fund DDT use. This amounts to a DDT ban. Regardless, sub-Saharan Africa has been largely ignored

    11. Medical care for malaria victims is indeed poor.

    12. You rely too heavily on irrationally anti-DDT idiots like Tim Lambert.

    Nearly everything you write about DDT is wrong. You are basically a Lambert clone.


  14. Ed Darrell says:


    While you’re at the ED website, take a look at this document, which exactly corroborates what I’ve said, and directly refutes several of your claims:

    Then take a look at ED’s reprinting of the 1969 article from the NY Times that notes their suit to force the government to ban DDT — completely refuting your earlier claim that EPA Director William Ruckelshaus acted “unilaterally” or in any way in the wrong:

    The 2004 letter reiterates my point that there was no official ban on the use of DDT that prevented its use against malaria-bearing insects. You cite one more example of incompetence by the Bush Administration in environmental issues, and that’s hardly enough to suggest that the entire world is incompetent at such affairs. The letter highlights the fact that political will and politicians’ knowledge play a role in these affairs — again refuting the claim that Rachel Carson urged a total ban (she didn’t) or that heartless environmentalists gladly sacrificed people to save animals (it’s difficult to make a case that Bushites favored the animals, or are environmentalists).

    In fact, what your letter shows is that the critics of Rachel Carson often act idiotically, taking actions that defy reason, and which are based on no good science. There is no official reason for USAID to refuse to purchase DDT; as the letter shows, the Rachel Carson wing of the environmental movement favors limited use of DDT, especially to save lives.

    You are aware, I trust, that the very first action taken by the group, Environmental Defense, then known as the Environmental Defense Fund, was to sue local officials in Long Island, New York, to stop the unnecessary and harmful spraying of DDT to control mosquitoes, yes? You cannot on one hand indict environmentalists as stupid, and then rely on those same environmentalists for your sources to support that claim.

    This letter shows that nutballs like the Competitive Enterprise Institute would do much better to listen to scientists who know what they’re talking about.

    I’m not sure how you define waffling, but to use this letter, from the environmental group that started the legal fights to ban DDT use, in a claim that such environmental groups don’t know what they’re talking about, might qualify.

    No other response to the 12 points?


  15. J F Beck says:

    Mr Darrell,

    The US’s ban of DDT for general use has led to a de facto worldwide DDT ban. This is clearly illustrated in the following 2004 letter from Environmental Defense’s Dr John Balbus to USAID’s Assistant Administrator for Global Health:

    “As the organization that led the successful campaign to ban use of DDT in the United States in the early 1970ís, we have read with concern recent reports that US AID is unwilling to consider even limited use of DDT in anti-malaria programs in developing countries. According to the New York Times Magazine, you recently stated that part of the reason US AID ìdoesn’t finance DDT is that doing so would require a battle for public opinion. ‘You’d have to explain to everybody why this is really O.K. and safe every time you do it.í î (ìWhat the World Needs Now Is DDT,î April 11, 2004).

    “We acknowledge your concern, as quoted in the article, that ‘For us to be buying and using in another country something we don’t allow in our own country raises the specter of preferential treatment,” and your view that ”We certainly have to think about ‘What would the American people think and want?’ and ‘What would Africans think if we’re going to do to them what we wouldn’t do to our own people?” While these are important questions, we urge you not to allow them to take precedence over the key public health question ñ namely, how best to combat malaria with the tools now available.

    “While Environmental Defense sees absolutely no justification for re-introducing use of DDT in the US, we believe that indoor spraying of small quantities of DDT in developing countries areas where malaria is spread by indoor-dwelling mosquitoes is an important tool given the limited alternatives now available. But it is not a silver bullet. Without an effective public-health system ñ one that tracks and treats infected people and safeguards against DDT misuse ñ malaria control will be at best partial. The Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) treaty expressly allows limited indoor use of the pesticide for malaria control until viable alternatives are found.

    “We urge US AID not to forego consideration of indoor spraying of small quantities of DDT in developing countries areas where malaria is spread by indoor-dwelling mosquitoes. At the same time, we urge US AID to support rebuilding the public-health system in developing countries, and efforts to find better alternatives to DDT use. For example, it appears that indoor use of DDT may function primarily by repelling mosquitoes rather than killing them (see e.g., Grieco et al., J Vector Ecol. 2000 Jun;25(1):62- 73). Development of less-toxic repellents should thus be a priority.”

    Click to access 5046_DDT-letterUSAID.pdf

    I’ll give you some time to digest the above and come back later to address some of your waffling.


  16. Ed Darrell says:

    Beck, here are the facts:

    1. DDT is toxic, long-term.
    2. DDT is carcinogenic in mammals; it’s not thought to be a potent carcinogen for humans, but extensive studies have been done ONLY for breast cancer.
    3. DDT is implicated in killing animals that prey on insects targeted by DDT.
    4. DDT quickly concentrates in living organisms in the wild, and concentrates rapidly through higher trophic levels — the dose a raptor gets is about 10 million times higher than the dose a mosquito gets. Here’s a chart that makes it more clear, I hope:
    5. Carson’s book did not “kill millions.”
    6. DDT’s registration as a pesticide was restricted after numerous studies showed it had serious harmful effects on a variety of organisms, essentially uncontrolled, after broadcast application on crops; this registration leaves open emergency use for agriculture and health reasons, and such uses have been granted in the U.S.
    7. DDT has never been banned outright in the U.S., or around the world.
    8. DDT’s use against mosquitoes in Africa slowed and stopped after DDT became ineffective against them — this was prior to the U.S.’s suspension of registration for the pesticide.
    9. DDT was always least effective against mosquitoes in Central Africa (Subsaharan Africa), unfortunately the species which carry the most deadly forms of the malaria parasite.
    10. Governmental inaction and ineffectiveness stopped the mosquito eradication program of WHO from ever being attempted in much of Central Africa.
    11. Lack of medical care for malaria victims is a chief driver of malaria deaths today, and has been since the 1940s. DDT spraying cannot make up for lack of medical care.
    12. The campaign against Rachel Carson is driven by nuts and business interests with unholy biases; the nuts (Lyndon Larouche) are inexplicable; the business interests include tobacco companies who want to discredit WHO in order to cast doubt on WHO’s world-wide campaign against cigarette smoking, and anti-environmentalists who have a range of bizarre issues they promote, including energy wasting and toxic scares (see their campaign against CFLs).

    If you have evidence that leukemia never occurs except after long latency periods, please present it. I spent about a decade working on figuring causes of leukemias, and if you had such a study, it might be eligible for prizes. I pointed out that the ONLY cancer that we can say with some assurance is probably not linked to DDT is breast cancer. The cancer Carson wrote about was leukemia. Since you did not specify which cancer you were talking about, but suggested that there should be a long latency period such as with breast cancer, I drew a reasonable inference from your misleading claim. Now that we know the facts — that your claim that cancer cannot occur shortly after an event is false, that the woman didn’t have breast cancer, that you cannot claim the cancer was not DDT linked — sure, I’ll work to get it right. Will you do the same?


  17. J F Beck says:

    And one other thing, you claim above that I misled in an earlier comment: “Carson did recount the story of a woman who probably overused DDT, and shortly thereafter came down with leukemia, not breast cancer (you mislead again).”

    This is also wrong. I wrote: “In Silent Spring Carson claims a person was struck down with cancer almost immediately after using DDT three times to spray her basement. I suppose such a ludicrous claim is your idea of good science.”

    Try to get it at least close to right.


  18. J F Beck says:

    ED writes: “When the article says ‘pesticides,’ you don’t think DDT unless it spells out exactly that pesticide. Nevermind that the general class of pesticides DDT is included in is noted…”

    You are wrong yet again. The closest the article gets to mentioning DDT or its class: “The study identified 216 man-made chemicals-including those found in everyday products like pesticides, cosmetics, dyes, drugs and gasoline (and diesel exhaust)-that have been shown to cause breast cancer in animals.”

    ED writes: “Selenium — you’ve got me. New science since I last looked.”

    So selenium was on the known carcinogen list but was removed since last you looked. Nope, you’re wrong again but refuse to admit it.

    ED writes: “As to human deaths, I know of no case where direct DDT application caused human death. As usual, you miss the point. Hundreds died in Borneo of typhus and plague after DDT wiped out the predators of the vectors of those diseases.”

    Ah yes, the oft repeated tale of rat borne vectors spreading disease after DDT killed many of Borneo’s rat-eating cats. There are many versions of this story. Some say replacement cats were individually parachuted in as if kitty paratroopers. Some accounts have this taking place in the 1950s while others claim it was a 60s event.

    Here’s a reputable account of what happened: “When attention was drawn to the extensive death of cats and consequent rat explosions, attempts were made by the authorities to replace the cat population. In Sabah cat owners in the towns were encouraged to donate surplus cats and litters of young kittens, and these were transported to the upland areas. In Sarawak, where the interior is much more inaccessible, a quite remarkable operation known as Operation Cat Drop was undertaken by WHO in cooperation with the Royal Air Force in Singapore (Harrisson, 1965). The donated cats were packed in special containers and dropped by parachute over the upland villages.

    “Luckily, these rat outbreaks did not produce any outbreaks of disease. The major consequence was the villagers resistance to having their houses resprayed at a later date. Nevertheless, the case history is important because it graphically illustrates the far-reaching effects of such contact-acting insecticides as DDT.”

    Click to access Chapter%2025%20-%20The%20Careless%20Technology.pdf

    The author of the above also notes that DDT spaying inadvertently caused thatched roofs to rot. But in his opinion roof-rot and exploding rat populations were “minor problems” in light of DDTs ability to control malaria-transmitting mosquitoes.

    Just about everything you write about DDT is wrong. If I get the time I’ll come back and take a more detailed look.


  19. Ed Darrell says:

    1. I see. When the article says “pesticides,” you don’t think DDT unless it spells out exactly that pesticide. Nevermind that the general class of pesticides DDT is included in is noted, and never mind that the study was done by the Silent Spring Institute (hint, hint, hint) and published by the American Cancer Society, whom you cite only so long as they tend to support your biases. Rubbish if I say it, not rubbish if you say it.

    Okay, I concede: the article isn’t meant for fools.

    2. Where did DDT cause environmental harm and human deaths? Environmental harm was all over the place — see the recently removed-from-the -endangered-species list bald eagle for the poster bird. Eagles weren’t the only birds harmed. DDT was particularly effective in taking out songbirds and others that are the natural predators of disease-carrying mosquitoes and flies. Excuse me: DDT is a very-long-lived chemical — that should read, “DDT is particularly effective in taking out . . .”

    Overuse of DDT reduced its efficacy against cotton pests. There are some studies that attribute the dramatic rise in cotton boll weevils in the 1960s to DDT overuse; alas, when the pests get resistant, often we haven’t developed another means of control; and since DDT kills the natural predators, the pests go unchecked.

    You could look it up. You could read about it.

    As to human deaths, I know of no case where direct DDT application caused human death. As usual, you miss the point. Hundreds died in Borneo of typhus and plague after DDT wiped out the predators of the vectors of those diseases. There are several other similar stories. According to the critics of Rachel Carson, hundreds of millions died from malaria after the WHO campaign to eradicate the disease failed. They attribute those deaths to stopping the use of DDT, but the DDT had ceased to be effective; the spraying was stopped because it didn’t work, due to overuse of DDT. So, if you want to be accurate and fair, you need to ascribe those deaths to the overuse of DDT instead of falsely to Rachel Carson. I gather, however, that fairness and accuracy isn’t your bag.

    3. Selenium — you’ve got me. New science since I last looked. You missed the point completely, as a result. I’ll have to find a new example. The point is that lots of stuff is carcinogenic — including substances found naturally in potatoes, to the point that, were potatoes considered food additive instead of food, it would be illegal to put potatoes into potato soup to sell in cans under the Delaney Clause. Or microwave popcorn — the stuff that makes the butter flavor is carcinogenic and caused a cluster of cancers among people who worked in the buttery microwave popcorn warehouse for years. Or trichloroethylene and trichloroethane, both now on the list of carcinogens, but once used to decaffeinate coffee (the solvents did not stay in the coffee). The point is that carcinogenicity isn’t a gold standard of evil, lots of stuff that causes cancer is also beneficial in proper amounts in proper places. Pesticides that cause cancers should be reduced, if their doses contribute to cancers.

    But not causing cancer is also not a badge of harmlessness. Water is very low in carcinogenicity, but if you drink 16 pints of good, clean water, you could go into a coma a die. DDT is designed — no, discovered would be more accurate — to kill living things. Generally it’s more toxic to insects than to other classes of animals, and generally it’s more toxic to smaller individuals than larger ones. But it concentrates in fat of birds and mammals, producing long-term effects that, while not toxic, can certainly be deleterious. The eggshell thinning effect, for example, doesn’t outright kill embryonic chicks, but it makes it highly unlikely the chick can survive to hatching. In the end, DDT is just as deadly in some of its slow effects as it is against insects. DDT kills the animals that kill human pests. DDT killed those creatures that naturally stop malaria, and thereby contributed to the spread of malaria in the 1970s and 1980s. DDT is the culprit, not the hero.

    4. Breast cancer: Rachel Carson died of breast cancer. I am unaware of anyplace or any time that she claimed breast cancer was caused by DDT. However, it is true that DDT concentrates in fatty tissues — like mammaries — and is delivered to mammalian young in mammalian milk. This, plus suspected connections between other chemicals of the same and similar classes caused a particular concern about breast cancer. Breast cancer rates are much higher in nations and places where chemicals like DDT are commonly used. So studies were done specifically focusing on breast cancer.

    Fortunately (since we’re all exposed to DDT in significant amounts), DDT has not been found to be a major or potent cause of breast cancer in humans.

    Liver cancer is a much different issue. Lung damage, including toxic tissue kills that lead to lung cancer, have not been studied in depth or long term. But in any case, it appears that the cancer dangers of DDT and its daughters (DDE) and successors (chlordane, heptachlor, etc., etc.) are significantly less than its toxic dangers.

    DDT was limited in use for its toxicity, and long-term toxicity. Carcinogenicity is not an issue. Your claims that DDT doesn’t cause cancer are misleading and dishonest. So far as we know, DDT is not the origin of the designated hitter rule, either; that doesn’t get DDT off the hook for toxicity.

    Carson did recount the story of a woman who probably overused DDT, and shortly thereafter came down with leukemia, not breast cancer (you mislead again). While leukemia has not been studied in as great a depth as breast cancer with regard to DDT, leukemia is one of those cancers whose onset can occur very shortly after an insult to the human system, such as exposure to a carcinogen in massive quantities. While I would not use Carson’s anecdote as scientific evidence, neither would I dismiss it by misleading people to think the victim died of a cancer different from the one she died of, or that there could be no link to the DDT application, when there could be.

    Reason is always rubbish to the unreasonable.

    I’m asking for rationality, and you’re denying it at every turn.


  20. J F Beck says:

    ED writes: “But I’m now becoming concerned about your obsession with carcinogenicity. I merely note that DDT is a known carcinogen in rebuttal to the hoax claim that it is not. Carcinogenicity plays a vanishingly small role in the case against DDT, and human carcinogenicity plays no role at all. I am not arguing that DDT is a massive danger for causing cancer in humans. It’s not.”

    So, I’m obsessive for discussing DDT’s carcinogenic potential (or rather, lack thereof) in a thread titled “Cancer and DDT: Current information”. I originally challenged you on this because the article you link to is about chemicals causing breast cancer but doesn’t even mention DDT. You were misleadingly trying to link DDT to cancer. I have persisted because you continue to post rubbish.

    ED writes: “Over use of DDT screws up our environment and kills people.”

    Where exactly is DDT screwing up the environment through overuse? Please cite a single documented DDT caused death – death caused by the carrier solvent doesn’t count.

    ED writes: “Not only is ethyl alcohol carcinogenic, so is selenium.”

    Here’s the EPA on selenium: “The only selenium compound that has been shown to be carcinogenic in animals is selenium sulfide, which resulted in an increase in liver tumors from oral exposure. EPA has classified elemental selenium as a Group D, not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity, and selenium sulfide as a Group B2, probable human carcinogen.”

    So, you’re wrong again: selenium is not carcinogenic. Selenium sulfide is probably carcinogenic if taken internally but this shouldn’t be a worry as it’s used topically.

    ED writes: “Much of the hoax opposition to DDT and almost the entire hoax case against Rachel Carson is based on the bizarre claim that since DDT is pretty well known not to cause breast cancer, Carson was in error and the case against DDT has been wildly overstated.”

    In Silent Spring Carson claims a person was struck down with cancer almost immediately after using DDT three times to spray her basement. I suppose such a ludicrous claim is your idea of good science.

    Mr Darrell, your DDT posts are rubbish, as are Bug Girl’s and Tim Lambert’s.


  21. Ed Darrell says:

    The archive you refer to is proprietary, and I have no access. From what you quote, however, your conclusions are unwarranted.

    Ruckelshaus didn’t act unilaterally. The courts ordered the move, and nothing you’ve cited suggests otherwise. You may check out the cites I’ve offered earlier, including especially the timeline that shows the U.S. Forest Service began limiting DDT use as early as 1958. “Unilateral” doesn’t describe action supported by a variety of institutions and agencies, carefully considered over 20 or 30 years, and ordered by a federal court.

    I still have no idea what Sweeney really recommended. In any case, Ruckelshaus did not ban DDT completely, and registrations for use after 1972 are pointed to in the timeline I earlier provided. From the details you provided, it may well be that Ruckelshaus EXACTLY carried out Sweeney’s recommendation. From the later litigation, that appears to be the case.

    I do not rely on Ruckelshaus’s action at all in noting that DDT is a carcinogen. The two things are unrelated. Banning DDT had nothing to do with carcinogenicity, but instead was based on the toxicity of DDT and its daughter products, especially DDE, which are long-lived and accumulative in the wild. At the time, little was known about the hormone mimicry these chemicals do — so the bans were not based on that, either. You should be aware, however, that overuse of DDT in the 1940s had rendered it ineffective against certain pests, and that by the time Ruckelshaus acted, the World Health Organization’s campaign to “eradicate” malaria-carrying mosquitoes was years abandoned. WHO abandoned the program partly because DDT could never have been the sole tool, partly because DDT was almost absolutely ineffective against some mosquito species that carried the nastiest forms of malaria (especially in Subsaharan Africa, the area of your concern in past posts), and partly because overuse of DDT had damaged its effectiveness almost everywhere else.

    In short, almost every source agreed that the dangers of DDT overuse far outweighed any benefits. Ruckelshaus, far from being “unilateral,” had the weight of science and the order of law, plus the tide of public opinion, with him.

    The reason DDT is listed as a probable human carcinogen today is because it is a known carcinogen in mice and rats. I find it interesting that you just can’t bring yourself to admit the state of the science today.

    Among the chief dangers of all toxins like DDT is liver damage. Liver damage is precursor to cirrhosis, and to liver cancer.

    But I’m now becoming concerned about your obsession with carcinogenicity. I merely note that DDT is a known carcinogen in rebuttal to the hoax claim that it is not. Carcinogenicity plays a vanishingly small role in the case against DDT, and human carcinogenicity plays no role at all. I am not arguing that DDT is a massive danger for causing cancer in humans. It’s not.

    DDT is a massive danger for poisoning humans in other ways.

    Over use of DDT screws up our environment and kills people. Deal with the serious arguments.

    Much of the hoax opposition to DDT and almost the entire hoax case against Rachel Carson is based on the bizarre claim that since DDT is pretty well known not to cause breast cancer, Carson was in error and the case against DDT has been wildly overstated. Carson was not concerned about breast cancer (though she died of the disease); carcinogenicity was not the reason Carson called for reining in the overuse of the substance; the toxicity of DDT that does the damage in killing the wrong stuff in the wild has nothing at all to do with cancer. Don’t fall victim to the hoax, or get your judgment clouded by the hoax.

    I’m not “so concerned” with DDT’s carcinogenicity. I think it’s dastardly, cowardly and wrong for tobacco advocates and junk science perpetrators to claim that DDT is perfectly safe because it’s not carcinogenic, when it is dangerous AND carcinogenic. I’m merely pointing out that even the claim that DDT is not a cancer-causing agent is in error. Go back and read my other posts on DDT and Rachel Carson, and you’ll get a bit of perspective.
    GOP war on science victim: Rachel Carson
    War on science: Spinning DDT, slandering the dead
    Setting the record straight on Rachel Carson, malaria and DDT
    Rachel Carson’s honor defended
    Didn’t know insanity is contagious: Sen. Tom Coburn
    Fisking “Junk Science” and “100 things you should know about DDT”: A new project
    Cold, Clear and Deadly
    Fisking “Junk Science’s” campaign against DDT: Point #8
    Inexplicable insanity about DDT and Rachel Carson
    Another reason why DDT use damages mosquito control: Bats
    Nutshell: The case against the critics of Rachel Carson
    Quote of the moment: Rachel Carson on DDT fish kills
    DDT: The problems the WHO/Rachel Carson critics don’t want you to know
    Update: War against science and Rachel Carson

    You’ll also find links to other blogs with more data — see especially Bug Girl and Deltoid.

    Not only is ethyl alcohol carcinogenic, so is selenium. Selenium is, you may know, an essential nutrient that humans need almost daily. Worse, in the concentrations in which selenium is needed for nutrition, it is carcinogenic. We are constantly faced with these kinds of paradoxes and conundrums. Good, solid information is the best way we have to lead to good decisions — but we have to be scrupulous about keeping our information good and accurate. The claims that DDT is “harmless” are wrong. The claims that DDT is “not a known human carcinogen” are at best misleading, and technically inaccurate. Carcinogenicity has never, never, never been one of the reasons DDT was suspended from use.

    All I’m asking is that the truth be told.

    DDT is a dangerous toxin that goes out of control when put into the wild and does more damage than good. When applied broadcast style on crops, DDT creates conditions that spread diseases like typhus and malaria. Rachel Carson was wise, and right to recommend we cut back on the use of DDT.


  22. J F Beck says:

    This isn’t an argument; you’re clearly wrong.

    In banning DDT Ruckelshaus did overrule Sweeney.

    From the April 26, 1972 Daily Review (sourced from UPI):

    “Acknowledging that DDT is both boon and bane, a federal hearing examiner has ruled that the pesticide does more good than harm and should not be banned.

    “The recommendation by examiner Edmund M Sweeney went to William D. Ruckelshaus, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”

    From the June 15, 1972 Nevada State Journal (sourced from UPI):

    “The government banned nearly all uses of DDT Wednesday, holding that the long-lived pesticide’s benefits to American agriculture were outweighed by its potential harm to the environment.

    William D. Ruckelshaus, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overruled an EPA hearing examiner’s recommendation in making the decision.”

    Using Ruckelshaus’s unilateral banning as a guide you declare DDT a carcinogen. Your National Toxicology Program link does not describe DDT as a known carcinogen stating only that it is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals”. Numerous IARC citations are provided yet the IARC does not classify DDT as a known human carcinogen. Perhaps this has something to do with an agent’s ability to cause cancer in experimental animals not necessarily reflecting its carcinogenicity outside the lab. Further, the linked NTP page notes:

    “Administration of technical grade DDT, TDE, and p,p´-DDE in the diet provided no evidence for the carcinogenicity of DDT in mice and rats (NCI 1978).”

    Why are you so concerned with DDT’s carcinogenic potential when our food is chock full of natural carcinogens?

    You might also want to warn readers that ethyl alcohol is a carcinogen. Why worry about DDT when it has yet to be shown to have caused the death of a single person?


  23. Ed Darrell says:

    I don’t know how something that is known to cause cancers can not be a carcinogen. I’ve provided the links. IARC notes, as I have noted, that DDT is a carcinogen in other animals. Are you asking whether DDT is a potent human carcinogen? That’s a separate issue, and one that IARC has not looked at. Are you claiming that only human carcinogens count? What is your argument?

    And, by the way, ARC lists DDT as a probable human carcinogen, same as everybody else, “Reasonably Anticipated to Be Human Carcinogens”:

    You asked whether DDT is a carcinogen. Yes, it is.

    Are you asking whether DDT is safe if it is not a carcinogen? No it isn’t.

    So what is your claim that you keep dancing around? Just come out and say it.

    The Ames test is interesting. Knowing the estimated mutagenic strength of a compound suggests further study — but that doesn’t substitute for actual clinical tests. DDT is a carcinogen in clinical tests. Ames test or not, DDT is an animal carcinogen.

    Is your need to claim argumentative victory so great that you don’t read what I write, or what I refer you to? If there is support ONLY for indoor residual spraying, then Rachel Carson should be your candidate for sainthood since that is what she urged. Sub-Saharan Africa, however, has mosquitoes that do not rest on the walls after biting — and so indoor spraying won’t do them in. Do YOU have something against Sub-Saharan Africans? Or is it just something against accuracy that bothers you?

    I keep seeing claims that Ruckelshaus overruled Sweeney. However, the official records, including the court cases, show that two separate EPA panels recommended a ban on DDT. Ruckelshaus refused to ban it, however. Only after a court case in which Ruckelshaus was ORDERED to follow the law and act against DDT, did he ban it.

    Now, are you claiming that Sweeney was involved in some secret proceeding that the federal courts don’t have? Please produce it. Particularly because all the other records disagree, and getting copies of Sweeney’s stuff is so difficult, I suspect all the fog about Sweeney is hoax. [Part of the reason I think it’s hoax is because it’s usually cited incorrectly to “Sweeney, EM. 1972. EPA Hearing Examiner’s recommendations and findings concerning DDT hearings, April 25, 1972 (40 CFR 164.32, 113 pages).” 40 CFR 164.32 is the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations section dealing with the procedures of administrative law hearings — it has absolutely nothing specific to DDT, or to 1972 hearings at any agency; it’s a wild-goose-chase citation, a hoax, a fraud.]

    I remember 1972 well — the EPA hearings documented the accuracy of Carson’s complaints. DDT was found to be a toxin killing fish and birds, in addition to many beneficial insects.

    If you have documentation to the contrary, I’m willing to look at it. So far, you’ve offered nothing to contradict anything I’ve said, nor to support some of the more obscure but misleading claims you’ve made. Are you really a human? Yes, I’m really a school teacher. And a lawyer. And I have followed the DDT wars since the 1960s, and I don’t recall any finding that DDT was a harmless chemical, by anyone, at any time. Got data? Let’s see it.


  24. J F Beck says:

    You claim DDT is a carcinogen when this hasn’t been proven despite extensive research. The American Cancer Society uses the carcinogen list produced by the International Agency for Research on Cancer an organ of the notorious right-wing corporate shills the World Health Organization.

    Dr Ames hasn’t been misled: he developed the Ames Test “a biological assay to assess the mutagenic potential of chemical compounds”.

    Is your DDT knowledge so limited that you don’t know that no one with any sense supports the use of DDT for anything other than Indoor Residual Spaying? IRS requires only very small of amounts of insecticide and does not require DDT to be sprayed “willy-nilly” into the environment. Such use presents far less threat to people than does the malaria it’s use is meant to prevent. Do you perhaps have something against sub-Saharan Africans?

    And by the way, in banning DDT EPA administrator Ruckelshaus overruled Edmund Sweeney — you remember him, he conducted the EPA DDT hearings in the 1970s. Numerous newspapers report on this in 1972.

    You should really try harder to get your facts right. But that isn’t going to happen because the facts destroy the case you’re trying to make.

    Are you really a school teacher?


  25. Ed Darrell says:

    The American Cancer Society is not charged with tracking known carcinogens, nor do they do research in that area. I linked you to the department of the federal government which does track carcinogens and lists them. DDT is on the list. The listing for “Reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens” can cover much ground, but it includes substances which are known to be carcinogenic in animals, as DDT is. There is no known mammal carcinogen “in animals” that has not also been shown to be carcinogenic in humans. One of the issues is the dosage received. Liver cancer is the usual one, because a toxin can kill liver tissue and leave it more vulnerable to cancer. As a pragmatic matter, it’s unethical to run such studies on humans. Projecting from rodent and other studies, we have safety limits for humans, and so far they seem to be working.

    Dr. Ames is misled, and it appears he didn’t read Carson’s book, either. Carson’s book carefully noted the benefits of DDT, and noted, correctly, that overuse of DDT on agricultural crops would render it useless in the war on disease. Rachel Carson did not urge a ban on DDT, but rather that we stop using it frivolously. Epidemiology studies show that DDT has injured people from simple toxicity. One study shows no link between DDT and breast cancer. That’s the only such study.

    Let’s assume for a moment that DDT could be proven to be non-carcinogenic in humans. Would we allow a deadly poison to be used more freely just because it doesn’t cause cancer? DDT is toxic to humans, and acts as a female hormone.

    But let’s take another step back. The reason DDT was banned was because it kills beneficial animals that help check disease vectors. DDT kills the geckoes that control cockroaches. It controls the phorid wasps that control crop pest and living quarters pest caterillars. DDT kills the birds that eat the mosquitoes that spread dengue fever, malaria and West Nile. DDT kills the cats that control the rats that spread the lice that spread typhus.

    DDT is a very dangerous substance. Carcinogenicity is not one of the chief worries about. Were DDT proven to be non-carcinogenic — and we already know that cannot happen — we could not use it willy-nilly against malaria. It’s too deadly against beneficial creatures, and it’s ineffective when used as CEI and others claim.

    So, what is your point?


  26. J F Beck says:

    Comment above should read “The American Cancer Society doesn’t recognize DDT as a known carcinogen either…”


  27. J F Beck says:

    Dr Bruce Ames doesn’t agree with you:

    “Okay, we’re slowly winning the scientific wars, but the public’s been brainwashed for 20 years. Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, a diatribe against DDT. She never once mentioned that DDT was one of the most valuable chemicals ever invented by man. It saved 30 million lives, and Paul Müller won a Nobel Prize for it. You could argue that penicillin was more valuable, but DDT was one of the triumphs of humanity and it never hurt a person as far as any epidemiology has ever shown. The levels of exposure don’t make sense as a likely cause of human cancer. One doesn’t want to kill eagles, but today we’re in the fifth generation of pesticides after DDT. To say it was an awful thing for humanity is without scientific basis, but it’s that mind-set again.”

    The American Cancer Society recognize DDT as a known carcinogen either — it relies on the International Agency for Research on Cancer list of carcinogens. DDT is listed amongst agents “Reasonably Anticipated to Be Human Carcinogens”. Included in this category is the widely used antifungal agent selenium sulfide. Perhaps you should warn Selsun users.


  28. Ed Darrell says:

    Trichloroethane and trichloroethylene are both carcinogens. Have you looked at the formula for DDT? Check out what the “T” stands for.

    Check other sites, especially EPA’s list of known carcinogens. DDT is a known carcinogen in mammals. Here are some corroborating sites.

    Click to access s064ddt.pdf

    While EPA notes that carcinogenicty studies in humans are “insufficient,” EPA also notes that DDT is a known mammal carcinogen. There is no other substance known to be an mammal carcinogen that is not also carcinogenic in humans (which stands to reason, since humans are mammals). But then, you’ve already looked at the NIEHS files.


  29. J F Beck says:

    Hmm, I can’t find any reputable sources saying DDT is carcinogenic. Are you sure?


  30. Ed Darrell says:

    DDT is a carcinogen, yes. It is linked chiefly to cancers of the liver.


  31. J F Beck says:

    The linked article doesn’t mention DDT. Is DDT linked to breast cancer (or any form of cancer), or not?


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