Getting the Word Out

Good news: Today’s Wall Street Journal highlights the recent study on DDT benefits in repelling mosquitoes and battling resistance issues. This study was highlighted recently in an Open Market blog post as well. (Subscription required for Wall Street Journal link.)

The U.S. and Europe solved their malaria problem a half-century ago by employing DDT, but the mosquito-borne disease remains endemic to the lowland tropics of South America, Asia and Africa, where each year a half-billion people are infected and more than a million die. Despite those staggering numbers, radical environmental groups like the Pesticide Action Network continue to oppose use of the insecticide. One of their favorite arguments is that DDT is ineffective because mosquitoes can build resistance to the chemical’s toxic properties.

According to the new study, however, that concern is misplaced. DDT continues to work as a repellent and irritant long after it’s no longer killing mosquitoes on contact. The researchers found that three out of five DDT-resistant mosquitoes avoided homes sprayed with the insecticide and reduced the risk of disease transmission by 73%.