Thursday, September 14, 2006

The DDT Link

I came across this seemingly mundane article from this web site for a news station in Ohio. It read the same as a hundred other stories I'd seen: bed bugs unseen in U.S. for fifty years, they hide in beds and headboards, bites and welts, etc.

But then I saw something rather interesting, dare I say, fascinating.


But 50 years after DDT basically eradicated bed bugs in this country, they're back.
DDT is banned now, so getting rid of the quarter-inch little buggers isn't easy. . . but getting them is.


I had seen a correlation months ago between the period of time that bed bugs seemed to have been (almost) driven to extinction in the U.S. (1950s-1960s) and 1972, the year DDT was banned by the EPA. Some web sites and news reports I've read have alluded to the connection between bed bugs and DDT, but this is the first time I've seen a news report clearly link the two together.

I quickly Googled "DDT and bed bugs" and found a lot of interesting links, which I will share with you now.

From what I've read so far, the main reason for the demand for the legalization of DDT is the rise of malaria in third-world countries. Apparently, DDT was used primarily to kill the mosquitoes which carried malaria. In The DDT Ban Myth, it states the following passage from a book titled Trashing the Planet:

Public health statistics from Sri Lanka testify to the effectiveness of the
spraying program. In 1948, before the use of DDT, there were 2.8 million
cases of malaria. By 1963, there were only 17. Low levels of
infection continued until the late 1960s, when the attacks on DDT in the U.S.
convinced officials to suspend spraying. In 1968, there were one million
cases of malaria. In 1969, the number reached 2.5 million, back to the
pre-DDT levels. Moreover, by 1972, the largely unsubstantiated charges
against DDT in the United States had a worldwide effect. In 1970, of two
billion people living in malaria regions, 79 percent were protected and the
expectation was that malaria would be eradicated. Six years after the
United States banned DDT, there were 800 million cases of malaria and 8.2
million deaths per year. Even worse, because eradication programs were
halted at a critical time, resistant malaria is now widespread and travelers
could take it home.


From what I've read, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that alleged DDT as being harmful to humans, even in trace amounts. The main concern is that a few humans have experienced some non-fatal side effects of DDT ingestion and that birds are affected by laying eggs with thinner eggs, increasing the chances for baby birds to die before hatching.

A small price to pay for the legalization of DDT, I think.

I think now is the time to contact our Congressmembers and demand for the legalization of DDT. When they ask why, you can tell them how your heart goes out to all the little African and South Asian children who lost their mommies and daddies to malaria. Of course, you can also remind them that millions of Americans are suffering psychologically from bed bugs, real estate values are plummeting from properties infested with bed bugs and our nation's hospitality industry will suffer with a drecrease in foreign visitors--and all the money they bring with them.

Of course, Congress will drag its ass to get this done, so in the meantime (I hope this isn't too irresponsible to propose). why don't we smuggle it in? Every day, cocaine, marijuana, firearms, Cuban cigars, people, and all other sorts of contraband that find its way past our country's borders and into our homes. So why not DDT?

For anyone reading this who regularly purchases illegal drugs, please tell your friendly neighborhood drug dealer you'd like to know just how much it would cost to get your hands on some DDT. Trust me, this is basic economics: create the demand, and the supply will create itself. There must be some part of the world where DDT is still legal. And that part of the world is about to get a lot of American dollars.

Or maybe we could manufacture DDT in the garages and tool sheds of those cute little suburban homes they way they do with the meth labs. We could be proud because like crystal meth, DDT is also MADE IN AMERICA!!!!

(waving the Stars and Stripes)

God, I hope this entry doesn't get me arrested.

Later

10 comments:

ls said...

Read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring before you blindly advocate using DDT again. DDT doesn't harm humans all that much, but destroying our environment does, totally, harm humans in the process.

Anonymous said...

Rachel Carson is horrible, horrible, horrible. Silent Spring is a junk science book that has led to the death of thousands of people from malaria spread by mosquitoes, which could have been controlled using DDT.

We should figure out how to manufacture DDT in basement labs!

Anonymous said...

I can't seem to shake the feeling that we are all in for a rude awakening when it comes to pests. North America faces a huge a problem with Asian Long Horned Beetle which came from China and is in danger of killing off many of our trees. This insect has no natural predators here. So much for global trade. This is the price of having all those cheap trinkets from dollar stores. Let's face it we're killing the planet. What right do we have to ruin the other species? I would be interested in knowing what are the natural predators of the bedbug. Spiders? Centipedes? I never kill spiders because they eat other insects. Centipedes?

If DDT kills all the birds what natural predator is going to eat the outdoor insects like mosquitoes that carry malaria and West Nile? Insects have such a speedy life cycle compared to ours that its no wonder they can easily become resistant to pesticides. Lets use our heads before thinking that chemicals can solve all our problems. I still think its a matter of time (and karma) before every single household has bedbugs.

Why are we not protecting our borders from the most insinuous and tiniest terrors?

Stevan said...

I think the real reason ddt was banned because in the poor third world countries people were actually not dying as much due to the fact of less mosquitos to spread disease; I believe that there is population control taking place in this world. How can you tell a country to stop using ddt, and let them kill each other; it seems clear what is going on here.

Frank said...

The reason DDT was hurting the environment was because we were dumping tons of it everywhere. Parks, fields, crops, cities. EVERYWHERE. They can put it in a little bottle, Sell it at lowes, and the pests that were gone 50 years ago, and are now running us over, can go away again, and we wont be hurting the environment at the same time.

BrianFH said...

Frank;
also, controlled use in specific situations by PCOs, and I think household / hotel spraying for bedbugs would qualify.

It's a g-d good thing that BBs aren't a disease vector. If their bites were infectious I'd be dead a hundred times over.

BrianFH said...

BTW, for those who are bothered by the itchy bites (some people don't react at all), use pure Glycerin USP on them. It takes down the swelling and kills the itch in 10 minutes or so. It can also be put in cups holding bed legs; it is a dessicant (water lover) and kills bugs that touch it by drying them out instantly. Totally non-toxic; you can use it as a gargle for bad breath (kills the bacteria on the back of the tongue, instantly).

Lots of other uses. Knocks down any inflammation, doubles healing speed and halves scarring, etc.

BrianFH said...

Just came across this site:
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2006/12/350785.shtml

Debunks the DDT solution and the visitor infection idea. The temperate bedbug, not the tropical one, is resurging here. And it is substantially resistant to DDT already. Bringing back DDT will be of no help.

idabob said...

WE DUMPED TONS AND TONS OF DDT OVER A VAST AMOUNT OF INDOOR AND OUTDOOR SPACE. DUH NO WONDER WE HAD A PROBLEM. I'M ALL FOR THE LEGALIZATION OF SMALL, VERY CONTROLLED AMOUNTS OF DDT SPECIFICALLY FOR LICENSED PROFESSIONALS TO USE. BED BUGS ARE A PLAGUE. PROFESSIONAL EXTERMINATORS ARE EXPENSIVE AND ANOTHER INFESTATION CAN TAKE PLACE AFTER THE LESS EFFECTIVE POISON WEARS OFF. SO WHERE DO I JOIN THE LEGALIZE DDT POLITICAL ACTION GROUP?

Anonymous said...

A PCO told me that DDT is still being manufactured in this country, and sold to other countries for their tropical fruit plantations, and, get this, we import their produce back to our supermarkets. There are more lies and cover-ups involving this DDT "ban" than we are told.