Strange bed bugs

May 18, 2008

You can’t make this stuff up.

Alaska’s lone congressman cosponsored a bill last week to provide help to the states to inspect hotels and motels for bed bugs. Chief sponsor is Rep. G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina. H.R. 6068 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The title: The Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2008.

While an Alaskan newspaper noticed the bill, neither chief sponsor Butterfield nor any cosponsor submitted a statement accompanying introduction, nor have they put out a press release. The blog NY vs Bed Bugs is all over it already.

Funny title but serious business? Can’t tell. Watch that space.

Full text of the bill below the fold.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Dr. Bumsted.

Read the rest of this entry »

How evolution makes bedbugs resistant to DDT

October 12, 2010

Our internet’s best expert in bedbugs, Bug Girl, recently featured another post relating how DDT drove evolution of bedbugs, so that bedbugs are no longer susceptible to DDT.  You should go read what Bug Girl said.

And you can view the video here, too; let’s spread the word, eh?

As Bug Girl describes it:

I discovered that bed bug evolution–specifically resistance to pesticides–was also the subject of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center‘s podcast this month.  A FASCINATING interview with one of the grand old men of evolutionary genetics, James Crow.  He worked on DDT resistance back in the late 40s and 50s.

Watch, and increase your knowledge.

DDT can’t fight bedbugs

September 19, 2010

Newsweek magazine, even in its much reduced form (bolstered by a good on-line site), still provides essential reporting.

A week or so ago Newsweek published a piece of reporting on the politics of bedbugs.  To wit:

  1. DDT doesn’t work against bedbugs, and hasn’t worked against them since the late 1950s.
  2. Astroturf organizations, so-called “think-tanks” set up by corporate interests jumped on bedbugs as another way of attacking the 46-years dead Rachel Carson, environmentalists, scientists and government — falsely.  The Heartland Institute is singled out as one group spreading false claims in favor of poison and against environmental protection.
  3. The recent resurgence of bedbugs is more related to changes in fighting other pests than in the discontinuation of DDT against them.  Had DDT been the magic answer, bedbugs should have made a resurgence in 1960 when DDT use against them was stopped, not 2010, a full half-century later.
  4. The many screeds in favor of DDT are politically driven, not science driven.

Think about that — every claim that we need DDT to fight bedbugs is a planted, political advertisement, and not a fact-based policy argument.  Each of those claims is based in a political smear, and not based on science.

The really weird part is that so many writers and bloggers spread the false claims without being paid.  Selling one’s soul for money is understandable; giving one’s soul away for nothing is stupid, or evil, or both.

Newsweek reported:

DDT “devastated” bedbug populations when it was introduced in the 1940s, says Richard Cooper, technical director for Cooper Pest Solutions and a widely quoted authority on bedbug control. Mattresses were soaked in it, wallpaper came pre-treated with it. It also killed boll weevils, which fed on cotton buds and flowers (by far, the majority of DDT was applied to cotton fields), and, incidentally, it killed bald eagles and numerous other species of birds, the phenomenon that gave Carson her title. In the laboratory, DDT can cause cancer in animals; its effect on human beings has long been debated, but since it accumulates up the food chain, and stays in the body for years, the consensus among public-health experts was that it was better to act before effects showed up in the population. But long before the United States banned most uses of it in 1972, DDT had lost its effectiveness against bedbugs—which, like many fast-breeding insects, are extremely adept at evolving resistance to pesticides. “Bloggers talk about bringing back DDT,” says Bob Rosenberg, director of government affairs for the National Pest Management Association, “but we had stopped using it even before 1972.”


Evolution has bred DDT-resistant bedbugs. Chart from

Evolution has bred DDT-resistant bedbugs. Chart from “Understanding Evolution, Bed Bugs Bite Back Thanks to Evolution,”

Heartland on bedbugs: DDT stupidity, all the way to 11

May 25, 2009

The Heartland Institute is charitably called a “think tank” sometimes.  In their latest screed against science and people who wish to protect the environment, there is no evidence of thinking, however.  It’s all tank.

The headline says it all: “Bedbug Outbreak Hits All 50 States Thanks to DDT Ban.”

With all their reading on bedbugs, they never noticed the many notes that DDT stopped working against bedbugs more than 50 years ago? Who is going to tell them that DDT doesn’t work? Or, is this a talisman, an understanding that none of the solutions proposed by Heartland Institute will work? First they flirt with intelligent design, then they lose their senses altogether.  There’s an omen there.

Remember the scene in “Spinal Tap?” Heartland Institute on bedbugs is stupid, turned up to 11.  Heartland Institute doesn’t allow comments, probably because they can’t stand the laughter.

DDT for bedbugs: Waste of mental space

May 17, 2008

Lifecycle of bed bugs, Cimex lectularius. Texas A&M

Lifecycle of bed bugs, Cimex lectularius. Texas A&M

DDT doesn’t work on bedbugs.  Here are the facts, at NY vs Bed Bugs.


Bedbugs, DDT

April 13, 2008

Bedbugs came back.

Common bedbug, Cimex lectularius, University of Minnesota image

Common bedbug, Cimex lectularius, University of Minnesota image

Once a scourge, bedbugs seemed to have gone away, largely, during most of the past 30 years, in most of the western world. International travel and other conducive conditions joined in the perfect storm, however, and bedbug infestation reports are rising in places like New York City.

A significant number of news stories on the topic mention DDT, which was briefly the pesticide of choice against bedbugs. Probably a majority of the blog posts on the topic call for a return of DDT for general use.

This blog is a refreshing exception: New York vs. Bed Bugs, “No DDT, thanks, we’re good.”

Update: In comments, Bug Girl suggests we look at the blog of Bedbugger, and especially this interview with an entomologist.  Take a look — the expert, Dr. James W. Austin of Texas A&M, says bedbugs are about 100% resistant to DDT.

Quote of the moment: DDT causing bed bug problems, Malcolm Gladwell

October 24, 2009

English: ID#: 11739 Description: This digitall...

This digitally-colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed on the ventral surface of a bedbug, Cimex lectularius. From this view you can see the insect’s skin piercing mouthparts it uses to obtain its blood meal, as well as a number of its six jointed legs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then the Malaysians started to complain about bedbugs, and it turns out what normally happens is that ants like to eat bedbug larvae,” McWilson Warren said. “But the ants were being killed by the DDT and the bedbugs weren’t — they were pretty resistant to it. So now you had a bedbug problem.”

Malcolm Gladwell, “The Mosquito Killer, New Yorker Magazine, July 2, 2001; Annals of Public Health


Does “Twitchy” really just mean “knee jerk?” Correcting the record, deflecting the hoaxes, propaganda and Mau-Mauing about Rachel Carson and DDT

June 1, 2014

Or is there any “knee” in that at all? Maybe it’s just jerk.

You know the drill. Someone says something nice about Rachel Carson’s great work. Someone on the right can’t stand that a scientist gets spoken of well, comes unglued, and spills every lie about Rachel Carson anyone can find, including the big lie, that “millions of kids died unnecessarily because DDT was banned because Rachel Carson lied about DDT, which is really a lot like sugar water to humans and all other living things.”

For the record, each of those claims is false; in reverse order:

  1. DDT is toxic to almost all living things, a long-lived and potent poison (which is why DDT was used to kill harmful insects and other vermin). While bed bugs and mosquitoes have evolved resistance and total immunity to the stuff, few other creatures have.
  2. Rachel Carson told all the truth about DDT that was known at the timeHer accuracy was confirmed by a panel of the nation’s top scientists, who reviewed her work for errors, and federal policy for usefulness and safety.  Since the 1962 publication of Silent Spring, and since Carson’s untimely death from cancer in 1964, we’ve learned that DDT is a carcinogen (though, we hope, a weak one); we’ve learned that DDT is an endocrine disruptor that fouls up sex organs and sexual maturity in more animals than anyone can count, including humans; and we’ve learned that  DDT causes birds to lay eggs with shells so thin the chicks cannot survive, even if the DDT doesn’t kill the chick outright.
  3. Carson didn’t urge a ban on DDT, nor did it happen until eight years after her death.  As I explain below, Carson fought to stop DDT abuses, to preserve DDT’s utility in the fight against disease.  She lost that fight, and as a resul tof DDT abuse by DDT advocates, the World Health Organization (WHO) had to scrap it’s ambitious program to eradicate malaria from the Earth — just as the campaign got to tropical areas of Africa.  DDT was banned for crops in the U.S. (health uses have never been banned here), after two different federal courts ordered EPA to do something because under the existing law they’d be required to ban DDT completely if EPA didn’t act, and after a rather adversary administrative law hearing that lasted nine months, featured testimony and document submissions from more than 30 DDT manufacturers, and compiled a record of DDT’s benefits and harms nearly 10,000 pages long.  It was science that got DDT banned, not Rachel Carson’s great writing.
  4. Almost every year since EPA banned DDT use on crops in the U.S., worldwide malaria deaths dropped, from peak-DDT use years (circa 1958-1963) levels of approximately 4 million deaths per year, to 2013’s approximately 627,000 deaths.  It’s unfair and grotesquely inaccurate to claim a reduction in deaths of about 84% is, instead, an increase.  Malaria was not close to eradication in 1965 when WHO stopped its campaign on the ground, nor in 1969 when WHO officially abandoned eradication as a goal, nor in 1972 when the U.S. banned DDT use in the U.S., and dedicated all U.S. production of DDT to export, mostly for fighting insects that cause disease.

In short, Rachel Carson is exactly as the history books present her, a very good scientist with a special gift for communicating science issues.

That’s exactly the stuff that galls the hell out of self-proclaimed conservatives, especially those who know they are the smartest person in any room, even an internet chat room with a few million people in it.  Say something good about a scientist, and they know that statement must be false, and what’s more  “. . .  let’s see, there should be something bad about this guy on Google . . . um, yeah . . . yessss! here, Lyndon Larouche’s magazine has some guy I’ve never heard of, but he’s smarter than any librul because he agrees with my bias! Take THAT you scurvy dog!”  And in short order they’ve scooped up all five or six nuts who said bad stuff about Rachel Carson and cross-cited each other, and they’ve copied the links to the three articles on the internet that obscure groups like CEI and AEI and Heritage have paid to raise in the Google searches, and . . .

Done deal.  “Good scientist!  Heh! No one will listen to old Rachel Carson any more!”

Unless good people stand up to the reputation lynch mobs, and stop them.  That’s why I’m telling you, so you’ll have the stuff you need to stand up.  I’m hoping you will stand up.

Shortly after dawn on May 27, Twitchy rose out of the mucky water and lobbed some mud balls at Google and especially Rachel Carson.  Twitchy is an interesting site.  It’s mostly composed of Tweets that support conservative causes and are snarky enough earn a snicker.  In short, there is no fact checking, and biases are preferred — whatever is the imagined conservative bias of the day (oddly enough, never is conservation of soil, water, nor human life ever a conservative-enough issue . . . but I digress).

It’s the nervous twitch of a knee-jerk mind and knee-jerk political mentality.

Twitchy opened up with a straightforward salvo from IowaHawk.

Note that, above, and again below, WHO records show that there were no “millions of malaria victims” of Rachel Carson.  IowaHawk, David Burge,  assumes — without a whit of real information — that DDT was the key to beating malaria, and so after the EPA ban on DDT, malaria must have risen, and so there must have been millions who died unnecessarily. Challenge the guy to put evidence to any part of that chain, and he’ll demur, probably suggest you’re mentally defective, and cast aspersions on what he assumes your political stand to be.  Or, he’ll ignore the challenge in hopes everybody will forget.   And another person will retweet Burge’s disinformative bit of propaganda — no facts, but what sounds like a nasty charge at someone who is presumed to be a liberal.  Burge’s erroneous Tweet had 504 retweets when I wrote this on June 1, great impact.

Eh. Truth wins in a fair fight, Ben Franklin said.  [I’m pretty sure it was Franklin; I’m still sourcing it, and if you have a correction, let me know!]

At length, more people chime in . . . and the level of misinformation in that discourse makes me crazy.

Occasionally I’ll drop in a correction, often a link to contrary information.  Then the abuse is astonishing. This conservative “hate information” machine is ugly.

CDC image of a child sleeping under an insecticide treated bednet (ITN) to prevent bites from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

CDC image and caption: How do insecticide-treated nets work? People sleep under ITNs during the time when the mosquitoes that spread malaria like to feed. The insecticide on the nets helps reduce the numbers of mosquitoes that enter the house and works to kill the ones that do enter. In this way, the ITN protects the person or people sleeping under the net. If large numbers of people in the community sleep under an ITN, the numbers of mosquitoes, as well as their lifespan, will be reduced. When this happens, all members of the community receive some protection, whether or not they own or use an ITN.

From the Wellcome Trust malaria page, an explanation for why it's so important to stop bites in the home, at night, and why it's generally not necessary to kill mosquitoes out of doors, in daylight.

[Image link failed] From the Wellcome Trust malaria page, an explanation for why it’s so important to stop bites in the home, at night, and why it’s generally not necessary to kill mosquitoes out of doors, in daylight.

Sometimes I unload.  I was on hold for a more than an hour on a couple of phone calls that day.  Some guy working the handle OmaJohn took great exception to something I said — I think his complaint was that thought I knew what I was talking about — and of course, he knew better!  How dare I refer to facts!

Here’s my response.  I think OmaJohn may have gotten the message, or rethought the thing.

But others haven’t.

I list his statements, indented; my responses are not indented.  Links will be added as I can.  All images are added here.

Rachel Carson is still right, still a great scientist and an amazing writer.  DDT is still poisonous, still banned for agricultural use in the U.S., and still not the answer to “how do we beat malaria.”

OmaJohn said (double indent), and I responded (single indent):

Always with the crow’s lofty view to try and cherry-pick facts to paint a valid conclusion.

I wouldn’t know, Mr. Corvus. I’ve been looking at DDT professionally for science and policy, and as a hobby, and for law and history courses, for more than 30 years. I’m rather drowning in studies and statistics. A crow might be able to find some information that contradicts Rachel Carson’s writings and EPA’s rulings — but it’s not evident in this data ocean. You see some of those cherries? Do they outweigh the ocean they float in?

I do like how you use blogs to justify your condescension, though. [He complaining that I offered links to answers here, at this blog; how brazenly wrong of me to study an issue!]

I think your denigration of people who actually study a subject is ill-advised behavior. Research papers are printed on paper, just like comic books. It’s up to us to use the information to form cogent ideas about history, science, and make good policy as a result. The blogs I cite are often written by experts in the field — see especially Bug Girl, Tim Lambert and John Quiggen — and they most often provide links to the original sources.

(I gather you didn’t bother to read to see what was actually there. Your loss.)

I don’t like what appears to be your view that your non-informed opinion of something you really know little about is as valid as the work of people who devote their lives to getting the facts right. In the long run, your life depends on their winning that game, and always has.

Without having read a lot, I took a gander at a few of the folks ‘on the other side’ on this, and I was Jack’s complete lack of surprise to see you in here with your head high, throwing around blog references and talking down to people.

Much as you are talking down to me, from your position has head muckraker? I see.

I’m not sure what you mean by “folks on the other side.” If you mean on the other side of Rachel Carson, please note that in 52 years not a single science source she listed has ever been found to be in error, or fading as a result of changing science. Discover Magazine took a look at this issue in 2007, concluding Carson was right, and DDT use should be restricted as it was then and remains. The author wrote this, about claims that Carson erred on damage to birds from DDT:

In fact, Carson may have underestimated the impact of DDT on birds, says Michael Fry, an avian toxicologist and director of the American Bird Conservancy’s pesticides and birds program. She was not aware that DDT—or rather its metabolite, DDE—causes eggshell thinning because the data were not published until the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was eggshell thinning that devastated fish-eating birds and birds of prey, says Fry, and this effect is well documented in a report (pdf) on DDT published in 2002 by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The report, which cites over 1,000 references, also describes how DDT and its breakdown products accumulate in the tissues of animals high up on terrestrial and aquatic food chains—a process that induced reproductive and neurological defects in birds and fish.

Don’t take my word for it. Go read for yourself. Check out PubMed, and read the first 50 citations you find on DDT and birds, the first 20 on DDT and human health, the first 50 on DDT and malaria. Check out the recent good books on the issue — William Souder’s great biography of Carson last year, On a Farther Shore, or Sonia Shah’s wonderful biography of malaria, [The Fever, How malaria has ruled humankind for 500,000 years].

Get real facts, in other words. Don’t talk down to people who might know what they’re talking about.

You wrote:

DDT use was officially stopped in most countries (perhaps all, I’ve not read anything I’d tout as even remotely conclusive, but I’ve not spent a substantial amount of time on this issue), but quickly (within a decade) was brought back to common use.

You should compost that, but it’s too green to do anything but foul things up indoors, here.

DDT was banned first in Sweden in 1971, then in the U.S. in 1972 — the U.S. ban was on crop use, only. About the only use that actually fell under that ban was cotton crops.

A few other European nations banned DDT.

DDT has never been banned in China, India, nor most of Asia, nor in any nation in Africa. Some African nations stopped using it when it stopped being effective; some African nations stopped using it when DDT runoff killed off food fishes and several thousands starved to death.

The World Health Organization never stopped using DDT, though its dramatic decline in effectiveness, especially in Africa, was key to the collapse and abandonment of WHO’s campaign to eradicate malaria. WHO stopped that campaign in 1965, and officially killed it off at the 1969 WHO meetings. You’ll note that was years before the 1972 ban in the U.S. — so the claims that the U.S. ban prompted a WHO to act is also false just on calendar terms.

If you check with the Wellcome Trust, they have several papers and PowerPoint presentations on the problems with malaria in Mexico, Central and South America — where DDT has been used constantly since 1948, with no ban. Unfortunately, malaria came back. Resistance to DDT in mosquitoes is real, and if malaria is not cured in the humans while the populations are temporarily knocked down, when the mosquitoes come back, they will find those humans with malaria, withdraw some of the parasites from that human, incubate them to the next part of the life cycle, and start a plague within a couple of weeks.

So, no, DDT was never banned in most places. There is a treaty, the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty (POPs), which names DDT as one of the dirtiest pollutants in the world. Though every other pollutant on the list is severely restricted or completely banned, DDT has a special carve out (Addenda D, if I recall correctly) which says DDT may be used by any nation to fight any vector-borne disease.

All a nation need do is send a letter to WHO explaining that it plans to use DDT, and when.

And, no, DDT was not brought back in haste to make up for a lack of the stuff.

Not sure where you’re getting your history, but it’s not exactly square with what’s happened.

That’s a pretty huge, expensive policy shift — twice.

Would have been, had it been done as you described. Not so.

There was a lot of pressure to make those changes.

So in the fight on Malaria, I think that scientists and bureaucrats generally agree that DDT plays an important role, particularly after seriously slowing or stopping use for a substantial amount of time.

Read the POPs treaty — go to the WHO site and you can still get some of the deliberative papers.

For almost all uses, DDT has much better alternatives available today.

Malaria is a special case because humans screwed up the eradication campaign, first, by abusing DDT and creating DDT resistance in the mosquitoes, and second, by completely abandoning most other parts of the program when DDT crapped out.

DDT doesn’t cure malaria. All it does is temporarily knock down the mosquitoes that carry the parasite through part of its life cycle. Better medical care is a very important part of beating the disease, and as in the U.S., improving housing cuts malaria rates dramatically, especially with windows that are screened roughly from sundown to early morning.

DDT is one of 12 chemicals WHO approves for use in Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), in areas where there are outbreaks of the disease. If any one chemical were used alone, it would be ineffective within months, or weeks.

When tobacco farmers in Uganda sued to stop DDT spraying in the early years of the 21st century, WHO issued a press release saying it still believes in DDT. Well, WHO always did. But as of 2010, DDT’s effectiveness is even less, and many nations use only the other 11 chemicals for IRS against malaria.

DDT is still there, if it works, and if it helps; bednets alone are more than double the effectiveness of DDT in preventing malaria. We could probably phase out DDT completely without anyone noticing. DDT is not a panacea. There is no shortage of DDT anywhere today. No one dies for a lack of DDT — though many may die from a lack of bednets or appropriate medical care, problems DDT cannot touch

I believe that Rachel Carson championed her cause very successfully. I believe there was sizeable, if not perfectly tangible, fallout that would only be measurable in human livesand misery thanks to her efforts. And in the end, things were as they should have been, despite her best efforts to force them where they
shouldn’t be.

I see. You don’t know what Rachel Carson said about DDT.

Carson said that DDT was — in 1962 — a pesticide without a clear replacement. She said it was absolutely critical to the then-existing WHO campaign to fight malaria.

And because of that, she urged that use of DDT on crops, or to kill cockroaches, or to kill flies at picnic sites, be stopped — because unless it were stopped, the overuse could not fail to leak into the rest of the ecosystem. Mosquitoes would quickly develop resistance to DDT — that had been a key problem in Greece in 1948, and Carson cites several other places where anti-typhus and anti-malaria campaigns were scuttled when the insects started eating DDT — and once that resistance developed, Carson said, beating malaria would be set back decades at a minimum, and maybe centuries.

She wrote that in 1962.

Fred Soper was the super mosquito fighter in the employ of the Rockefeller Foundation who developed the DDT-based malaria eradication program. He was loaned to WHO to take the campaign worldwide. Soper thought Carson was too tough on DDT in her book, but he had already calculated that DDT resistance would develop by 1975. He had just more than a dozen years to eliminate malaria, he wrote. (This is chronicled in Malcom McDowell’s 2001 profile of Soper in The New Yorker; you can read it at McDowell’s website.)

WHO’s campaign had mopped up pockets of malaria left in temperate zone nations; he had massive successes in sub-tropical nations, and he was poised to strike at the heart of malaria country, in equatorial Africa, in 1963.

The first campaign launched there fizzled completely. When they captured some mosquitoes, they found the mosquitoes were highly resistant to DDT already. Turns out that farmers in Africa wanted spotless fruit, too, and were using tons of DDT to get it.

For the health workers, what that meant was they had no tool at all to knock down mosquitoes even temporarily, to then finish the medical care, housing improvement and education components of the malaria eradication campaign.

It is also true that many of those nations had unstable governments. Soper’s formula required that 80% of the homes in an affected area be treated. That required highly trained, very devoted workers, and a willing population. Those things were difficult to find in nations with unstable governments, or worse, civil war. So there were other complicating factors. But Soper had faced those, and beaten them, behind the Iron Curtain, in Asia, in the Pacific and in South America.

When DDT quit on him, as Carson predicted it would without official action to save its potency, Soper called it quits.

Soper ended his campaign without approaching most of equatorial Africa in 1965. WHO officially ended the program in 1969.

Carson died in 1964. She would have been saddened that DDT stopped working in the malaria fight so early. She had written about it occurring in some future year — she probably knew of Soper’s calculation in the 1970s.

The public relations smear campaign against Carson, costing the chemical companies $500,000, generated some doubt among the public, but the President’s Science Advisory Council published its report saying Carson was accurate on the science, and calling for immediate action against DDT — in 1963.

It was 7 years after her death that EPA was organized, and 8 years before EPA moved against DDT.

Carson pleaded for a dramatic reduction in unnecessary DDT use — to make spotless apples, for example — in order to save people from malaria.

What did you think she said? What things were back where they should have been — poor kids dying of malaria is as it should be?

We could have done better, had we listened to Rachel Carson in 1962.

You’ve offered nothing that logically refutes those conclusions.

You should have read those blogs.


  • David Burge, Iowahawk, whose post started the Twitchy twitches, several years ago revealed that a young boy his family had been sponsoring in Africa through a private charity, had died from malaria.  Death from malaria is a tragic reality.  Burge urged people to speak out for more DDT, and to donate money to Africa Fighting Malaria.  Readers of my blog may recall that AFM is the astro-turf organization founded by Roger Bate years ago, from all appearance to pay Roger Bate to say nasty things about Rachel Carson.  We could find on their IRS 990 form no evidence that the organization does anything to fight malaria, anywhere.  One might wonder how much anti-malaria activity Roger Bate’s $100,000/year salary would have purchased, in any of the several years he headed the non-help group, or since.  Adding insult to tragedy, Burge noted at his blog that “environmental groups” opposed Indoor Residual Spraying in Africa, and especially the use of DDT.  But it turns out that the chief opposition at that time came from tobacco growers and tobacco organizations — the groups from whom Roger Bate solicited money to start up AFM.  Wouldn’t it be easier just to stick with the facts?
  • If you want to do something, to save a life from malaria, send $10 to Nothing But Nets.  In stark contrast to AFM, NbN sends almost all its money to buy bednets to give away to people in malaria-endemic areas of Africa.  While AFM ridicules nets, they are much more effective at preventing malaria than IRS, especially IRS with DDT alone.  Nets are much cheaper, too.  NbN acts in partnership with the NBA and the United Methodist Church in the United States, and is one of the most upstanding charities anywhere.  They do not say nasty things about Rachel Carson — probably wouldn’t if they thought to, because they are so busy fighting malaria.

No, Congress did not “overreact” to DDT

October 30, 2013

Looking for something else, I restumbled on the Constitution Club, where they continue to club the Constitution, its better principles, and especially the great nation that the document creates.

And one of those grotesquely inaccurate posts blaming liberals for everything sprang up — bedbugs, this time.  If only those liberals had let the good DDT manufacturers poison the hell out of the entire planet, the blog falsely claims, there would be no concern for bedbugs surging in hotels worldwide today, and especially not in Charlotte, North Carolina, back during the Democratic National Convention.

A meeting of a chapter of Constitution clubs? Wikipedia image

A meeting of a chapter of Constitution clubs? Wikipedia image

Looking through the archives, I now recall I dealt with most of this issue on this blog before.

The post’s author made a response I hadn’t seen.  God help me these idiots do need a trip to the intellectual woodshed.  He said “Congress overreacted on DDT, I think. It likes to do that.”

In reality, Congress did nothing at all, other than pass the law regulating pesticides, if we stick to the real history. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the rule on DDT, which still stands today.  Over react?  Two federal courts had to twist EPA’s arm to get any action at all, and after delaying for nearly two years, EPA’s rule didn’t ban DDT except for outdoor use on crops, which by that time meant cotton in a handful of states in the U.S. — DDT has never been banned in Africa nor Asia, Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty notwithstanding.

Oh, hell. Put it on the record.

I wrote:

Did Congress ever “react” to DDT?

EPA was tasked by the 1950s’s FIFRA to check out safety of pesticides, and did.  FIFRA had recently been amended to give EPA (USDA, before) power to ban a pesticide outright. Two federal courts found DDT eminently worthy of such an outright ban, but refrained from ordering it themselves as they saw the law to require, on the promise of EPA to conduct a thorough scientific review.  At some length, and irritation to the Eisenhower appointees to the courts, EPA got around to an administrative law hearing — several months and 9,000 pages.  In a panic, the DDT manufacturers proposed a new label for DDT before the hearings got started, calling DDT dangerous to wildlife, and saying it should be used only indoors to control health-threats.  Alas, under the law, if DDT were allowed to stay for sale over the counter, anyone could buy it and abuse it.  The hearing record clearly provided proof that DDT killed wildlife, and entire ecosystems.  But, it was useful to fight diseases, used as the proposed label suggested . . .

Administrator William Ruckelshaus took the cue the DDT manufacturers offered.  He issued a rule banning DDT from outdoor use on agricultural crops except in emergencies with a permit from EPA.  But he specifically allowed U.S. manufacturers to keep making the stuff for export to fight malaria in distant nations, and to allow DDT makers to keep making money.

“Over-reacted” on DDT?  Not Congress, and not EPA.  The rule was challenged in court, twice.  The appellate courts ruled that the scientific evidence, the mountains of it, fully justified the rule, and let it stand.  (Under U.S. law, agencies may not act on whim; if they over-react, they’ve violated the law.)

How bedbugs react to DDT today.

How bedbugs react to DDT today.

No study conducted carefully and judiciously, and passed through the gauntlet of peer review, since that time, has questioned the science conclusions of that rule in any significant way — if any study questioned the science at all (there are famous urban legends, but most of them lead back to people who didn’t even bother to do research, let alone do it well and publish it).

But so-called conservatives have faith that if Congress will just repeal the law of gravity, pigs can fly.  In the real world, things don’t work that way.

How bedbugs view DDT in the 21st century.

How bedbugs view DDT in the 21st century.

I’ve captured most of the earlier exchanges below the fold; one can never trust so-called conservatives to conserve a record of their gross errors.  They’re there for the record, and for your use and edification.

Read the rest of this entry »

PestAway: Exterminator deals with DDT, honestly

June 29, 2011

Here’s a cool breeze:  Pest Away Exterminators in New York explains, patiently, that DDT no longer works against bedbugs, and is otherwise ill-advised in most applications.

Try to find an error in this short post:


The truth about DDT…

  • It was highly effective when it was first introduced.
  • It nearly wiped out bed bugs in America.
  • It is NO LONGER effective in treating bed bugs.
  • It is more dangerous than people realized.

In 1939, DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) was introduced as the “miracle pesticide.” It was effectively used in military and civilian arenas to control lice, malaria, mosquitoes and bed bugs. It nearly wiped out all bed bugs in an allegedly “safe” method, but by the 1960’s, bed bugs had built up a resistance and potential immunity to DDT.

In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, which essentially demonized DDT and helped launch the environmental movement. By 1972, DDT was banned in the USA, but DDT is still used very effectively in other countries to control Malaria. Although there is a public outcry to bring DDT back, it’s very unlikely that it would have any meaningful effect on controlling bed bugs.

Jeff Eisenberg founded the company in 1991, after a career with a large accounting firm.  It appears his training on the importance of accuracy in numbers, and honesty in facing tough situations, carried over to his new business.  Good on him.

DDT ain’t pixie dust; we can’t poison Africa to health

February 7, 2009

Internet communications spreads information far and wide, but it also spreads disinformation and error far and wide — sometimes faster than good information.

Bill Gates gave a TED* Talk about the need to fight malaria, and where his billions-of-dollars campaign against the disease is going.  Within minutes, the nattering nabobs science ignorance were calling Gates an idiot, and calling for the poisoning of Africa.

Gates, you may remember, is either the richest man in the world or close to it due to his brilliant marketing of Microsoft products.  This would suggest to rational people that he is not an idiot, at a minimum, and perhaps should be listened to on topics which he has researched, such as malaria and mosquitoes.   Africa, you may remember, has a lot of people in it who don’t want to be poisoned, thank you very much. This may suggest that DDT would be controversial even were it a panacea, which it is not.

Rational voices exist.  Deltoid and Bug Girl both provided useful, and accurate information (though in this case, Tim Lambert at Deltoid refers to the DDT controversy on bed bugs, and to another Bug Girl post on research showing DDT won’t help against bed bugs).

Here’s the controversial two minutes of Gates’s talk (you can see it at Bug Girl, too):

Internet and other media now fall into a predictable rhythm:  Any news faintly related to DDT prompts stiff-necked conservatives and other do-nothings who don’t like environmentalists to write stuff calling for a “return” of DDT, making erroneous claims that DDT had made the world safe against malaria, and that only the delusional claims of Rachel Carson convinced everyone to stupidly stop spraying DDT.  And, of course, they then make the erroneous claim that all we need to do to fix everything is bring back DDT.

They don’t ever let the facts get in the way of a stupid, misplaced political hit.

In short, they treat DDT as pixie dust, a magic solution to every problem.  This is fantasy.  In reality, we cannot poison Africa to good health.

I’ve written about these issues before at length.  Hard research, good research, tells us what we have to do to fight malaria

  • Money must be spent to improve health care in Africa, especially to remote populations. Wiping out malaria requires that we get rid of the parasite in humans.  Mosquitoes get the parasite from infected humans, after all — if mosquitoes can’t get infected from humans, we don’t need to worry so much about killing the mosquitoes.  Preventing infections is good; curing those that exist is essential.  Malaria parasites’ ability to grow resistance to pharmaceuticals means we need health care delivery systems that will assure a complete cycle of medical treatment occurs in every victim, and before that, that a quick and accurate diagnosis will allow targeting of the right drug to the specific parasite.
  • Housing improvements will provide huge benefits. Malaria was wiped out in the U.S. and Europe partly by rising incomes.  Even poor people could afford screens on windows, which keeps mosquitoes out of the house, where most infections start.  Housing unsuitable to screening will put a larger burden on bednets.  But better housing is a key part of the fight.
  • Improving incomes help fight malaria. Families with more money can afford better housing, and better health care.  Malaria, and most disease, is very much an “Are Your Lights On” sort of problem.  Victims are the first to know they need to get medical care, and they are in the best position to prevent infections earlier.  If potential victims have the money to buy the tools to fight malaria, malaria has a tough time.
  • Good public works, from local governments, help fight malaria. Good roads work well to fight the disease.  Bad roads develop potholes.  In Africa, potholes fill with water and become breeding sites for mosquitoes.  Well-engineered, well-maintained roads and walkways make great contributions to eliminating malaria.
  • Education on how to avoid malaria pays huge dividends. People who know how to look for mosquito breeding places, and how to eliminate them, are crucial to the elimination of the disease.  Abandoned tires are classic mosquito breeding dumps, but so are rain gutters and even badly-drained flower pots.  When these things occur close to homes, mosquitoes breed there and bite victims close to home.  Since most people spend a signficant amount of time at or near their homes, eliminating these infection opportunities pays off well.  Further, certain breeds of mosquitoes are active at particular hours of the day or night.  Avoiding the places these breeds exist at the hours of their activity prevents malaria infection.  People must be educated to know these things, and to act on them.
  • Bednets work well, and bednets do not prevent the use of other methods. Pitting a fight against bednets and DDT is a favored tactic of pro-DDT groups.  Research shows bednets are very effective without DDT, but that DDT is not effective over the long term without bednets.  A mild solution of DDT applied to bednets in some areas improves the efficiency of the nets.  This is not an one-or-the-other issue.  Bednets always work, insecticides can be used appropriately.  To beat malaria, we will have to use every tool.  Bednets are a great tool, and they will be required regardless the availability or propriety of DDT.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation stepped in to provide money and organization to the fight against malaria a few years ago.  In the last year alone his work and his money have helped prevent millions of cases of malaria, reducing the incidence of the disease by 50 percent in some areas, and 85 percent in others.  Whatever he says about malaria and mosquitoes deserves a good listen at least.

(Until I figure out how to embed TED into the new WordPress, here’s the link at TEDS:


*  TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design

Carnival of Fighting Malaria (and DDT)

October 8, 2008

It’s been about a year since the first, completely impromptu Carnival of DDT.  Last fall, in October and November, there was enough going on about DDT to merit something like a blog carnival, with a second in November.

My news searches today turned up a number of items of interest in DDT and fighting malaria — enough to merit another summary post, IMHO.  Here goes.

First, Tim Lambert at Deltoid sets straight the history of the policy of the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to DDT use, and whether WHO caved in to pressures from environmentalists to completely ban DDT, as Roger Bate had earlier, erroneously said.  Tim has a number of well-researched, well-reasoned posts on DDT and health; people researching the issue should be sure to visit the archives of his blog.  But for today, make sure you read “Roger Bates’ false history.

Ornithologist Tom Cade holds a gyrfalcon, which is larger than the peregrine falcons he helped to preserve. Now working to aid the revival of the California condors, he will speak Friday at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.  Allentown (Pennsylvania) Morning-Call

Ornithologist Tom Cade holds a gyrfalcon, which is larger than the peregrine falcons he helped to preserve. Now working to aid the revival of the California condors, he will speak Friday (October 10) at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. Allentown (Pennsylvania) Morning-Call

(Photo above has gone missing; see photo below)

Ornithologist Tom Cade, with a falcon; photo by Kate Davis, from Cade's biography at Global Raptors

Ornithologist Tom Cade, with a falcon; photo by Kate Davis, from Cade’s biography at Global Raptors

This Friday the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary presents an award to Tom Cade, the Boise, Idaho guy credited with doing much to save the endangered peregrine falcon. You can read about it in the Allentown, Pennsylvania, Morning Call.

Cade played a major role in reviving the nearly extinct peregrine falcon in the 1970s. As a graduate student, he studied how a pesticide contributed to their sharp population decline. He eventually founded a conservation group, The Peregrine Fund, which reintroduced captivity-bred birds to the wild.

. . . The falcon’s revival is widely considered one of the most successful recoveries of an endangered species. The species teetered on the brink of extinction in 1970, when as few as 39 known pairs of nesting falcons existed. A 2003 survey puts the number of nesting pairs at more than 3,100.

On Thursday Cade will receive the Sarkis Acopian Award for Distinguished Achievement in Raptor Conservation.  According to The Morning Call, “The award is given infrequently by Hawk Mountain officials and is named after the Kempton-area bird sanctuary’s primary benefactor, a late philanthropist who studied engineering at Lafayette College.”

Also, see this story about the recovery of peregrines in Canada, from the Sudbury Star.

Bug Girl tells the story of a new documentary on the Michigan State University professor who documented the deaths of songbirds made famous in Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring. Dr. George J. Wallace’s work became the subject of an article in Environmental Journalism in 2005.  Students and faculty at MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism produced the movie, “Dying to Be Heard.”  Be sure to check out the comments at Bug Girl, for more information.

International health care expert César Chelala argues that the “War Against Malaria Can Be Won, Without DDT” at the on-line Epoch Times. Chelala reports on a project in Mexico — where DDT use has never stopped since 1946 — a project now extended to other places in Central America, demonstrating that the tried and true methods of preventing mosquitoes from breeding and avoiding contact work well to fight malaria.  Plus, he says, it’s cheaper than using DDT.  Doubt that it could work?  Chelala points out that the Panama Canal could not be dug without controlling mosquito-borne illnesses, and the Canal was opened in 1914, 25 years before DDT was demonstrated to be deadly to insects, more than 30 years before widespread deployment of DDT.

Early detection and treatment is critical to eliminate the parasite carriers. An important aspect of this project has been the collaboration of voluntary community health workers who are taught to make an early diagnosis in situ and to administer complete courses of treatment not only to those affected but also to the patients’ immediate contacts.

The project was carried out in specific pilot areas called “demonstration areas” which had been selected due to their high levels of malaria transmission. In those areas, the number of malaria cases fell 63% from 2004 to 2007. In several demonstration areas I visited in Honduras and Mexico as a consultant for the Pan American Health Organization malaria had practically been eliminated. Plans are underway to expand the project to other regions where malaria remains a serious threat.

One of the advantages of not using DDT (besides avoiding its toxic effects) is the enormous savings realized from discontinuing its routine use. These savings can now be put to good use with other diseases.

You might also want to view Chelala’s description of solutions for public health crises in Africa, at The Globalist.

Chelala’s cool, clear and accurate reporting sadly contrasts with the hysteric and wrong reporting at Newsbusters and other polemical outlets on the web, seemingly bent on perpetration of the hoax that DDT is harmless and Rachel Carson was wrong.

Liz Rothchild’s one-woman play about Rachel Carson, “Another Kind of Silence,” got good reviews upon opening at the Warehouse Theatre, in Croydon, England.

Meanwhile, from Uganda comes news that DDT spraying failed to reduce malaria in spraying done in that nation. Proponents expected a sharp and steep decline in malaria, but numbers are not greatly reduced.  Even after taking account for the legal difficulties of spraying, after conservative businessmen sought an injunction to stop DDT use, the results do not speak well for DDT’s effectiveness.

Contrary to expectations, data collected by health departments in Apac and Oyam districts, which record the highest malaria incidence in the world, do not reflect significant improvements since DDT spraying ended prematurely. From May to July 2008, which is the period immediately following the spraying, between 400 and 600 clinical malaria cases per 100,000 of the population were reported per week in Oyam; and 600 to 800 such cases in Apac for the same period. These are almost exactly the same as the number of cases reported between January and April 2008.

Getting news out of Africa is not always easy.  Reading reports from Ugandan papers, it becomes clear that reporting standards differ greatly from the U.S. to Uganda.  Still, the saga from Uganda demonstrates that DDT is no panacea.  Uganda is a nation that had not used DDT extensively prior to the mid-1960s.  Resistance to use now comes from tobacco and cotton interests who speciously claim that potential DDT contamination of crops would result in the European Union banning vital Ugandan exports.  The legal issues all alone assume Shakespearean tragedy dimensions.  Or, perhaps more accurately, we could call the story Kafkaesque.

See also:

Happily, we have evidence that younger people show concern about DDT pollution, in a story about the stuff in Teen Ink magazine.

A study in the UK finds DDT present in colostrum, the vital pre-milk substance newly-lactating mothers create for their babies, as well as in later breast milk.

Bed bugs continue their own surge on Americans, and knee-jerk writers editorialize for the return of DDT, completely unaware that bed bugs are among those critters most resistant to DDT, and unaware that there are other, more effective solutions.

James McWilliams writes in The Texas Observer that most of us are ecological illiterates, which makes control of pollution more difficult, in a review of a new book, The Gulf Stream. Canny readers will recognize McWilliams as the author of the recently-published book, American Pests: Our Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT.

Sandra Steingraber will lecture on November 11 in Philadelphia on “The Many Faces of DDT,” part of a series of lectures sponsored by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, “Molecules That Matter.”  Steingraber is the author of Living Downstream:  An ecologist looks at cancer and the environment.

Canada’s Leader-Post reports that Chinese food processors have been caught using DDT in food to reduce insect infestations.  The cycle starts all over again.

Time for this carnival’s midway to shut down for the night.  Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

DDT as snake oil

September 15, 2007

“It’ll cure what ails ya!”


My first year in college, we spent Saturday nights watching “Emergency!” I don’t recall now whether it was on NBC or ABC, but after we saw it once, we were all hooked, Al, Ben and me.

No, it wasn’t great drama. An hour-long drama about paramedics in Los Angeles probably has a lot of potential — this wasn’t that drama. Jack Webb, of “Dragnet” fame, directed. It had a cast amazing for its “how-did-HE- get-there” quality: Bobby Troup, the jazz pianist and composer of “Route 66″ (” . . . get your kicks on . . .”) played a doctor; his wife, jazz vocalist Julie London, played a nurse. Loved Julie London. Beautiful, but she had all the acting chops of David Janssen (“the man of a thousand faces” of “The Fugitive” fame). Martin Milner was there, too — he actually starred earlier in NBC’s “Route 66” which featured Corvettes, but not Bobby Troupe’s hit song (go figure) — and so was Kevin Tighe and Randolph Mantooth. And Robert Fuller, and Kent McCord. Whew!

For undergraduate college students, the show was a riot. We noticed early on that the script writers were defibrillator happy. Every time the paramedic truck showed up, the first thing off was the defibrillator. Heart attacks seemed to be a big problem in LA at the time — maybe Jack Webb’s own mortality subconsciously sneaking into the scripts — so the defib unit got a lot of use.

But it also came out at all the wrong times. Drowning victim? Defibrillator first, THEN artificial respiration. Poison victim? Defib. Auto accident? Defibrillate the victim, THEN worry about the spurting, arterial bleeding (if it’s spurting, is the defib necessary?). Classic kitten in the tree? Defib the tree, THAT will get that kitten down. Read the rest of this entry »

Instapundit supports pollution, but with a smile

August 23, 2007

DDT follows the same path as PCBs in the environment, both persistent organic pollutants. From World Ocean Review:  Bioaccumulation of toxins in the marine food chain has long been recognized as a problem. The process illustrated here relates to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a typical environ-mental toxin.

DDT follows the same path as PCBs in the environment, both persistent organic pollutants. This illustration from World Ocean Review: Bioaccumulation of toxins in the marine food chain has long been recognized as a problem. The process illustrated here relates to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a typical environmental toxin.

Instapundit is happy to promote the use of poison:

SOME KIND WORDS FOR DDT — in the New York Times, no less. “Today, indoor DDT spraying to control malaria in Africa is supported by the World Health Organization; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and the United States Agency for International Development. . . . Even those mosquitoes already resistant to poisoning by DDT are repelled by it.”

The debate over DDT is over. There’s scientific consensus. Anyone who disagrees is a DDT denialist and a mouthpiece for Big Mosquito.

posted at 10:18 AM by Glenn Reynolds

No, Glenn, the debate is not over so long as people continue to deny the harmful effects of DDT and act as mouthpieces for Big Poison, Big Garbage, Big Cancer, Big Pollution, voodoo science and Big Stupid.

There is a scientific consensus, but Reynolds misstates it. Scientists agree that DDT kills birds, bats, reptiles and beneficial insects that prey on malaria-bearing mosquitoes, making control of malaria more difficult (among many other harms). Consequently, DDT use under the rules laid down by the U.S. EPA in 1972 make a lot of sense. Those rules are the same as agreed to in the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty (POPs) — no DDT use in broadcast spraying, especially on crops; DDT use is allowed when necessary to fight disease; alternatives to DDT must be researched and created. The POPs Treaty lists DDT as one of the “Dirty Dozen” persistent pollutants.

POPs are a set of chemicals that are toxic, persist in the environment for long periods of time, and biomagnify as they move up through the food chain. POPs have been linked to adverse effects on human health and animals, such as cancer, damage to the nervous system, reproductive disorders, and disruption of the immune system. Because they circulate globally via the atmosphere, oceans, and other pathways, POPs released in one part of the world can travel to regions far from their source of origin.

Reynolds appears not to have read the treaty, nor even the article he cites, by Donald Roberts, from the odd, industry-funded Africa Fighting Malaria; even the most optimistic DDT fanatics generally nod in the direction of the dangers. Roberts wrote:

It would be a mistake to think we could rely on DDT alone to fight mosquitoes in Africa. Fortunately, research aimed at developing new and better insecticides continues — thanks especially to the work of the international Innovative Vector Control Consortium. Until a suitable alternative is found, however, DDT remains the cheapest and most effective long-term malaria fighter we have.

Africa Fighting Malaria is apoplectically happy to have one study that shows some repellent effects of DDT. As Bug Girl and Deltoid note, AFM urged unreasonable responses from many of us (I got their request, too). The study is encouraging, but it fails to make DDT the panacea Roberts paints it, and the study completely ignores the dangers of DDT, which have not changed a whit.

The best solutions to fighting malaria do not require DDT. Other new studies show that simple mosquito netting is amazingly effective — in Kenya, a switch in policy to give the nets out for free reduced malaria incidence by 44%. Under policies urged by U.S. conservatives, Kenyans had been required to pay for the nets previously. Reducing the cost of the nets left them beyond the means of many poor Kenyans.

Where is Glenn Reynolds’ promotion of non-poisonous and non-polluting, effective means to fight malaria. Why does he only go for the damaging solutions?

Perhaps Glenn Reynolds and Donald Roberts could make a showing of good faith in this case. Since this one study did tend to break their way, perhaps they could show their gratitude by calling on Sen. Tom Coburn to stop acting like a brat throwing a tantrum and remove his holds on the bill that would name a post office in Pennsylvania for Rachel Carson, honoring her work against pollution.  (Coburn cites junk science and voodoo science as his justification — and he’s an M.D.!)
Or, would making a statement against pollution be contrary to their politics?

To the chronically science challenged, DDT is an answer to more ills than you can imagine. We face new infestations of bed bugs — how long before AFM’s editorial ghosts have people urging DDT spraying wholesale to fight bed bugs? West Nile virus continues to plague the U.S., and already articles have appeared calling for broadcast spraying of towns and marshes to fight it, though that would probably be exactly the wrong thing to do.

The fight against ignorance goes on, but some wear ignorance like a badge of honor.

Historic Deltoid: Indur Goklany on DDT, corrections from Tim Lambert

April 10, 2018

I’ll have to beg forgiveness from Tim Lambert, but in the interest of accuracy and good history, I have captured below the post Tim Lambert had on the old Deltoid blog (at the Seed Science Blogs site), dealing with Indur Goklany’s errors on DDT.

A bit of other history: Anthony Watts despises my posts (me, too, probably) and I am banned from his site for various sins including calling him out for suggesting Rachel Carson and President John F. Kennedy had more than an occasional handshake personal relationship (a bizarre charge Christopher Monckton repeats and exaggerates on in slightly different ways). Watts and I disagree on what we should regard as facts; I take the old collegiate debate and Scout Law positions, he sides with the Heartland Institute parody/comedy/hoax troupe.

Watts was having none of my corrections. Tim Lambert, who has researched this particular area of pro-DDT hoaxing more than anyone else, was kind enough to respond.

This is borrowed from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, until, and then maybe a supplement to, the reappearance of Deltoid’s archives at the new site. As of April 10, 2018, I have not checked the links. If links don’t work, please tell me in comments, and I’ll work to get a new link to the old information where possible.

You should also know that Sri Lanka today is certified to be malaria-free, without DDT.

Below, Tim Lambert’s post on Indur Goklany’s errors about DDT history:


Indur Goklany, DDT and Malaria

More »

Ed Darrell points to a WUWT post by Indur Goklany which promotes the use of DDT to fight malaria instead of more effective measures. As with most of the DDT promoters, Goklany carefully avoids mentioning the way mosquitoes evolve resistance to insecticides. For example, here’s what he has on Sri Lanka:

For instance, malaria incidences in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) dropped from 2.8 million in the 1940s to less than 20 in 1963 (WHO 1999a, Whelan 1992). DDT spraying was stopped in 1964, and by 1969 the number of cases had grown to 2.5 million.

Now compare this with what really happened in Sri Lanka:

With widespread resistance of A. culicifacies to DDT, malathion spraying was introduced in 1975 in areas of P.falciparum transmission affording protection to nearly one million people. Towards the end of 1976 DDT spraying was completely discontinued and during 1977 exclusively malathion was used as an adulticide.


Note that the scale for malaria cases is logarithmic, so there was a factor of ten reduction in the number of cases in a few years after DDT spraying was discontinued.

The misinformation about DDT and malaria that Goklany spreads is harmful and could kill people. DDT still has a place in the fight against malaria (because of insecticide resistance we need as many different insecticides as possible), but there are more effective means available, and by trying to undercut the use of the best methods for fighting malaria, Goklany will be responsible for people dying from malaria.

[End, quote from Tim Lambert’s old Deltoid blog]

Now, is it possible that the comments will copy as well as the blog post? There are some good ones in there.

Here’s a try at copying the comments, below the fold.


Read the rest of this entry »

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