SOURCE: Vision Media

Vision Media

October 14, 2009 03:02 ET

Life and Health: Malaria Risk vs. Chemical Pesticides' Effects

Can DDT Pesticide Safely Eradicate Malaria Risk, or Is the Danger of Using Chemical Pesticides Too Great?

PASADENA, CA--(Marketwire - October 14, 2009) - Malaria risk threatens the life and health of thousands daily. In high-risk areas, including sub-Saharan Africa, malaria-related deaths happen every thirty seconds. Since the late 1940's, DDT pesticide has been used to eradicate malaria. But over the years it has been blamed for a myriad of life and health issues. In a recent article titled, "Mulling Over Müller," life and health writer Alice Abler gives a glimpse into the life of Paul Müller, the Nobel laureate who discovered the high efficiency of DDT and whose reputation was inexorably tied to his most famous -- or infamous -- discovery.

In 1948, Paul Hermann Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods. Seven years after Müller's Nobel Prize, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a program to eradicate malaria risk worldwide, using Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT pesticide). The effort was moderately successful and improved the life and health of many. But since the late 1970s, especially in Africa, malaria levels have increased.

Some involved in science and environmental issues are quick to blame global warming for the higher malaria risk through increased vector range and lifespan. But one major factor is often overlooked: DDT, one of the main chemical pesticides used to kill vector mosquitoes that carry malaria, has fallen out of favor and has been, in many cases, banned from use.

DDT pesticide, like other chemical pesticides, decreases malaria risk by eliminating the carriers, or vector insects. Although early research showed that concentrated DDT pesticide is toxic to humans and animals when swallowed, the weak dilutions used for sprays and dusts (one to five percent DDT pesticide) were then found to be harmless to humans. DDT was a safer and less expensive option than arsenic-based chemical pesticides.

As Abler explains in the article, DDT pesticide was quickly put to use as a "safe" chemical pesticide in agricultural applications, the elimination of household pests, and even as help for the military through the lessening of typhus and malaria risk to soldiers.

But since the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," a revolutionary tome that still affects our views of science and environment, DDT pesticide has been blamed for a myriad of life and health issues. Although some have disputed Carson's take on science and environment, the effect of her views on the use of DDT pesticide and other chemical pesticides remains today.

What are the effects of such chemical pesticides? "Mulling Over Müller" addresses these important science and environmental questions and more information can be found at

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