Should DDT Be Banned Everywhere

Kiia Lappalainen- Honor Bound

Every day people all around the world die from numerous causes, but in places like Africa, North Korea, and other parts of Asia, one of the main causes of death is Malaria. Malaria is a “life threatening disease, which is caused by a mosquito biting someone, and releasing a parasite into their bloodstream” this disease stays with someone forever. [4] In fact “Some 300 million people suffer from the disease every year and more than a million die”. [1] Sub- Saharan Africa use DDT to kill off those mosquitoes that are carrying Malaria. DDT “was developed as the first of the modern synthetic insecticides in the 1940’s”.[5] Although Malaria is no longer a threat in many countries such as the United States, Malaria should not be thought of in a light manner.

While DDT spray is bad for the environment, “the next best alternative is not only less effective but also four times as expensive.” [1] DDT has been banned in multiple countries for the amount of pollution it causes, but if we were to start banning anything that polluted, we would not have many cars. Even though it may not be the most ideal thing to use in this situation, at least it is working.

On the other hand if this DDT spray would have been in use earlier like it was in Europe and America, then “sub- Saharan Africa would be almost a third richer”, because they most likely would have gotten rid of those pesky mosquitoes. [1] There are bad effects to this spray also. Such as many insects “have already become resistant” to the pesticide. [2] The DDT spray is harmful to us and everything around us. It is not only killing many plants, but also harming animals. In some countries the spray is even sprayed inside of their homes. The spray has been known to cause “breast cancer in girls who are exposed to DDT before puberty”. [3] Therefor, scientists have “concluded that it should be used as a last resort” [3]

In summary, DDT has been banned in many strong nations, because of all the harm that it causes. DDT not only is harmful to us as human beings, but also to the environment that we live in. Scientists should start working on a more effective solution and look at the opportunity costs of each event. The opportunity cost being: killing the environment by using DDT, or letting Malaria continue to kill people by not using DDT spray. I think the positive externality in this case is that more people are staying alive, but the negative externality is that the environment is being harmed by the chemicals in the DDT spray. In the end society is going to do whatever maximizes their own utility and makes them better off.

Footnotes:

[1] Charles Wheelan, Naked Economics Undressing the Dismal Sciences, (New York: WW Norton, 2010), 89.

Image and [2] PAN, “The DDT Story,” Pesticide Action Network North America, June 15, 2016, http://www.panna.org/resources/ddt-story

[3] Marla Cone, “Should DDT Be Used to Combat America,” Scientific American, May 4, 2009, June 15, 2016, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ddt-use-to-combat-malaria/

[4] Mark Laflamme, “Malaria,” Health line, December 14, 2015, June 15, 2016, http://www.healthline.com/health/malaria#Overview1

[5] “DDT- a Brief History and Status,” EPA, November 5, 2015, June 15, 2016, https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/ddt-brief-history-and-status

 

 

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