Steve Milloy’s Green Hell Blog has this post today, on the recently revised policies of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the use of DDT.
The WHO Summary Document seems to be self-contradicting. The document states that Malaria causes 1 million deaths per year, and children are 3/4 of those cases. Malaria also imposes heavy economic burdens in terms of costs of treatment and prevention and lost productivity.
Then the WHO document says that spraying with DDT is “highly effective” at controlling Malaria. So if it is highly effective at controlling Malaria, why discontinue its use?
According to WHO, DDT “is potentially harmful to wildlife and to humans, if not applied in accordance with WHO guidelines and recommendations.” In other words, it isn’t harmful. The guidelines of the WHO for the use of DDT are basic common sense.
The document lists as potential effects of DDT as “childhood neurodevelopment, breast cancer in women, male reproductive health (reduced sperm counts and quality) and to diabetes.” At least some of these claims have already been debunked (e.g., sperm count and breast cancer claims).
Remember, these claims deal with potential harm–not documented, conclusive proof of harm. On the other hand, Malaria is a proven killer, and DDT is proven to control Malaria. Why is this even being debated?
I’ll address this question in a later post.