September 14, 2002
11:20 PM   Subscribe

West Nile Virus got you down?

Then jump on the Bring Back DDT bandwagon, because it's time to kill something to stop the evil WNV!

Heck, DDT doesn't harm the enviroment or people, it doesn't!

Question to ponder: DDT, good thing to use in the US?, bad thing to use? or "Just like hunting for deer with a bazooka"?
posted by RobbieFal (22 comments total)

 
DDT || Convenient Fact Offering:

The biological half-life of DDT is about eight years; that is, it takes about eight years for an animal to metabolize half of the amount it assimilates. If ingestion continues at a steady rate, DDT builds up within the animal over time.
posted by RubberHen at 11:35 PM on September 14, 2002


Quick, Henry! The Flit!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:22 AM on September 15, 2002


The question shouldn't be "Is DDT bad?" it's "How many human lives is it worth to avoid it?"

Seriously, DDT could have been used to stop Mosquito born illinesess in the 3rd world, but wasn't due to the efforts of environmental groups.

Unfornunetly, it does harm birds. I don't think it should be used in the developed world, but I don't think birds lives are anymore important then human ones.
posted by delmoi at 12:49 AM on September 15, 2002


I don't think birds lives are anymore important then human ones.

Excuse me for saying so, but that is a total bullshit comment. If faced with the choice of killing a sibling or a bird you'd kill a bird. Correct? Any human lives are equal to any bird lives.

Fold_and_ Mutilate has found a disciple.
posted by ttrendel at 1:35 AM on September 15, 2002


I think delmoi was saying it should be used in Third World countries.
posted by BloodyWallet at 1:45 AM on September 15, 2002


Any human lives are equal to any bird lives.

Well, for sure, if what you're interested in is a healthy, biologically diverse environment, conducive to healthy human reproduction, then yes, we are all intertwined. Birds, for starters, are a great barometer of the overall health of an ecosystem. Better them than us I suppose. Except they are us.

Fold_and_ Mutilate has found a disciple.

Cheeeeeeesy to the max.

I think delmoi was saying it should be used in Third World countries.

I don't think delmoi was relating that. Rather, environmental groups were successful in thwarting DDT use in less important countries because of its proven dangers and yet its use is being proposed today in the first rate US of A. Though I do agree his final sentence is a touch ambiguous.
posted by crasspastor at 1:57 AM on September 15, 2002


Haha.. ttrendel demonstrating world-class comprehension ability there. :)


Anyway.. DDT was a Bad Idea and will continue to be a Bad Idea.
posted by cell at 1:58 AM on September 15, 2002


While I'm not entirely opposed to reallowing DDT for vector control (but not agriculture), I don't see why DDT proponents feel the need to claim that there is no evidence it causes harm. The byproduct DDE is well known to be a endocrine hormone mimic, which can result in unpredictable developmental problems in large organisms. And that's just one possible threat, ignoring carcinogenic properties and so forth. An issue this serious should be left to scientists rather than pundits.
posted by skyline at 2:09 AM on September 15, 2002


I'm 3/4 of the way through Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" right now. I think that the most important bit of information regarding DDT is organisms' ability to cache it and pass it along the food chain in a magnifying effect. To invent some animals and numbers, let's say that harmless levels of DDT builds up in flies to the tune of 1 part per million (ppm). Frogs, who eat those flies, unwittingly consume the DDT as well, which proceeds to build up in their bodies, only due to the quantity of flies, it's got 10 ppm. Herons eat these frogs, and they build up a shocking 110 ppm over time. And then bears eat the herons (I have no idea if bears eat herons, but bear [ha ha] with me) and build up 250 ppm. Before this concentration of DDT kills them, some guy shoots the bear, chops it up into bear steaks and feeds them to his family. They don't build up high levels of DDT in their bodies, at least not for long, because they die.

So, yeah, DDT would kill mosquitos. And so would a small nuclear explosion. But both are bad ideas.
posted by waldo at 7:46 AM on September 15, 2002


An issue this serious should be left to scientists rather than pundits.

pundits are the scientists of the new world order, and television is the new holy bible koran crystal ball strokebook opiate of the masses, bringing us the infallible word of gawd awmighty mohammad allah harry potter bush of shrubsville.
posted by quonsar at 7:51 AM on September 15, 2002


The US Coast Guard developed the Mosquito Magnet. It emits carbon dioxide to attract the bugs and runs on propone.
posted by stbalbach at 8:24 AM on September 15, 2002


"Just like hunting for deer with a bazooka"?

More like hunting deer with Agent Orange.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 8:42 AM on September 15, 2002


Millions of people owe their lives to Fred Soper.

Why isn't he a hero?

Find out here.

Peace.
posted by cup at 9:38 AM on September 15, 2002


For my first couple years when I was living in Thailand, I worked at a university in the countryside. If you've been to SE Asia, you'll be able to imagine how wet the countryside is. Malaria is a major issue.

While there I occasionally saw a truck that would slowly drive along the road, spraying some white dust over the canals on the side of the road. There was a lot of standing water in them. You can guess what the powder was. DDT. The first time I saw this truck I almost drove through the plume on my bike.

No environmental lobby stopped that, and to be honest, after seeing a fellow prof go through a bout with malaria, despite being environmentally aware, i don't know that i would stop it either.
posted by i blame your mother at 10:05 AM on September 15, 2002


An opinion from Africa.

Many of those here ever seen anyone sick with malaria? Ever seen whole groups of people with it? (I have. It is most disturbing). Very likely not. The majority of the developed world has virtually no exposure to it, no concept of what living in almost perpetual fear of it is like, or of what losing whole portions of your family (and in some cases, portions of your entire village) to it means.

Well and good to pontificate, and cavalierly compare the use of DDT to killing mosquitos with "nuclear weapons", or hunting deer with Agent Orange. Please do remeber when you do so, however, that the issue (as with many in life) does not have a nice convenient answer like "DDT=evil", but is rather one of balancing alternatives.

It is not a choice between "hunting deer with Agent Orange" and nothing, but rather a choice between hunting deer with Agent Orange or hunting humans with Agent Orange. Do remember that there are still parts of the world where malaria is considered a risk to the public health second only to AIDS in severity of effects and percentage of the population affected.

Very well to simply say "DDT is a bad idea" - so long as you understand fully what you are saying. And understand fully what that attitude will mean - in life or death terms - to parts of the developing world.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:08 AM on September 15, 2002


Well, there are balancing arguments for using it against malaria. but malaria kills about 1 million people a year, with 300 million acute cases. west nile on the other hand, has killed 63 people in the US. Better hide your babies, and start spraying poison in the streets I guess. For comparison the flu kills about 20,000 people a year in the US. It's just politics and media, media needs a big scary story, and politics needs to seem like they are helping us.
posted by rhyax at 10:30 AM on September 15, 2002


cup, thanks for the fascinating fred soper link!
posted by quonsar at 11:29 AM on September 15, 2002


Keep in mind as well, Midas, that Malaria does not wreak havoc on the United States to the levals it does in Africa because we actually bother to provide this nation with modernized medicine and health care.

The solution for staving off Malaria and other diseases in Africa is for this country and Europe to allow them the rights to generic medicine and to stop promoting a ultra-Christian anti-contraceptive agenda that spreads even more disease that weakens physical immunities. "Who cares that it kills the envoronment, people are dying" is the same kind of faulty nearsighted logic that leads to the belief that entire countries should be bombed to kill its leader. Oh, wait. We seem to think that's a good idea too.

DDT is a potentially dangerous long-term-residue chemical that is being offered as a solution because the idea of actually giving people medicine or modernized ways to repel insect infestations would cost more. It's sad, because the same site rhyax linked to explains how Malaria and Typhoid can practically be cured in third-world nations for less than $50 per capita.

Obviously I'm not going "save the mosquitos" here, I'm just saying that poisioning nature altogether will not work in the long run. For one thing, nature will find a way to get around it, and for another, we might just cause long-term damage to ourselves as well.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:10 PM on September 15, 2002


My entomology professor was a staunch advocate of DDT. He believed that it did more good than harm. Back during WWII they routinely dusted soldiers with DDT to combat lice. He actually ate some in front of us during one of his lectures. more on lice & trench fever
posted by redhead at 2:51 PM on September 15, 2002


My entomology professor was a staunch advocate of DDT. He believed that it did more good than harm. Back during WWII they routinely dusted soldiers with DDT to combat lice. He actually ate some in front of us during one of his lectures. more on lice & trench fever

On a related note, you know if he is alive or if he coincidentally died from any of the diseases that DDT could cause?
posted by RobbieFal at 8:08 PM on September 15, 2002


Darwin Award in the making, there.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:42 PM on September 15, 2002


Robbie, he's alive
posted by redhead at 3:26 PM on September 16, 2002


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