Banning Of DDT
The ban of DDT in the United States was a gradual process that originated with Racheal Carson’s book, “Silent Spring.” The popular naturalist author painted a grim picture of the environment due to the large scale agricultural application of DDT and its use as a pesticide. It was eventually banned in the country in 1972 after thorough investigations were conducted on the environmental impacts of the chemical.
The ban was a bold step forward for the US in its fight against environmental degradation. DDT is a potentially dangerous chemical that has the capacity to biaccumulate like other organochlorine pesticides. When an animal consumes plants that have been sprayed with DDT, the chemical concentrates in its fat because it is fat-soluble rather than being excreted. If another animal eats the infected animal, it is likely that the chemical will be absorbed in the predator’s body. Thus, animals higher in the food chain i.e. human beings will have higher levels of DDT toxicity. The ban on DDT has helped reduce the number of plants, wildlife, and human beings actually exposed to the chemical. The accumulation of DDT in the food chain has significantly reduced as a result in the past three decades.
Another reason for the ban is the effectiveness of the chemical in the fight against mosquitoes. Mosquito breeds across the world have become almost completely resistant to DDT insecticides due to constant exposure to the chemical. Thus, there is no tradeoff between the environment and human health with the use of DDT. Furthermore, the ban was important as it led to the re-emergence of some bird variants that had previously seen their populations dwindle (Stokstad, 2007). Scientists believed that the decline of bald eagle populations was because of DDT causing eggshell thinning.
Stokstad, E. (2007). Species conservation. Can the bald eagle still soar after it is delisted? Science 316 (5832): 1689-1690.