I ate my wafer...

9/23/2006

Hmm, DDT anyone?

So, Krupa just churned out another post in his "Cuba sucks" series, this time on Dengue Fever. All considerations of what's completely FUBAR'd about Cuba aside, I've been trying to figure out if DDT is really necessary as part of insect control in the developing world. Now, usually I'm a big fan of modern chemistry, be it better drugs, or better lubricants, but I have a hard time wading through the propaganda to figure out whether the DDT replacements are that much more expensive, or how many birds DDT really kills off.

Some preliminary thoughts on the topic:

A. I really hate it when people use the term "organophosphate" for the common DDT replacements as if it was a particularly evil group of compounds just from the name. I mean, DDT is an organochlorate , namely Chlorodiphenylnitrichloroethane which is just as scary sounding. Oh, and I'm really tired of hearing how organophosphates are close kin to nerve gas, because DDT is ALSO a nerve posion. There's apparently some evidence that organochlorates do all sorts of nasty things to small creatures, and probably people as well. Unfortunately, a good number of articles about human organochlorate poisoning are in Spanish, since they're mainly used in Latin America and I can't read a bit of Spanish.

B. I'm willing to sacrifice a few birds for public health, however, I'm more than a bit curious as to how quickly insects become resistant to pesticides. That is, if DDT only buys us 40 years before resistant super mosquitos drive us to organophosphates, I'm not as willing to accept using it.

C. Unfortunately, I didn't pay nearly enough attention in chemistry, mostly because I was busy snickering with Mr. Krupa about the football players accross from us, and I'm have a really hard time figuring out whether organophosphates should be much more expensive to synthesize than DDT.

So, does anyone have simple answers to the DDT question?

3 Comments:

  • Hey Bob, I was just wondering what you thought of this article on Michael Chrichton's website:

    www.crichton-official.com/features/articles.html

    By Blogger Tom, at 6:51 PM  

  • Why don't you just use nicotine. The reason plants synthesize nicotine is to keep insects from eating too much of them. It is "all natural." With any luck the dose that kills mosquitoes will be just the right dose to keep all of south america buzzing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:05 PM  

  • The world health organizations just reached some interesting conclusions reguarding the use of DDT

    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=19855&Cr=malaria&Cr1=

    By Anonymous Dan H, at 3:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home