With toxic DDT against malaria

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To combat malaria, the highly toxic pollutant DDT is still being sprayed

To date, malaria has been relatively widespread in South America, Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Especially in the poorer African countries, toxic dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, DDT, is still used to fight malaria.

With the help of the insecticide DDT, the number of Anopheles mosquitoes, the main carrier of the malaria pathogen, is to be reduced in order to keep the risk of infection low in the population. For example, instead of malaria, the residents face significant health problems from the DDT. Because, according to the Stockholm Convention, insecticide is one of the poorly biodegradable environmental toxins (persistent organic pollutants) that accumulate in the human body via the food chain and can cause serious health problems here.

DDT genotoxic and cancer-causing In order to cope with the spread of malaria, numerous African countries still rely on the use of insecticides to this day. Since treatment of those affected is often not affordable for the relatively poor population, governments are trying to keep the risk of infection as low as possible by decimating the mosquitoes with the help of the mass use of DDT. According to the motto: Where there are no mosquitoes, nobody can be stung. However, the DDT also accumulates in the human body via the food chain and is suspected of being carcinogenic and mutagenic. It is not without reason that the Stockholm Convention of 2004 prohibited the manufacture and use of DDT and made an exception only when it comes to combating disease-transmitting insects. The use of DDT to combat malaria is still permitted, but this is associated with a considerable health risk for the population.

Alternative malaria control methods without DDT There have long been alternatives to malaria control with DDT that promise at least the same success - without any side effects comparable to DDT. Nevertheless, the demand for DDT remains relatively high, especially in African countries, while the alternative insecticides are hardly tested, Michael Brander of the Swiss Biovision Foundation criticized “ZEIT”. According to the experts, "the political will is lacking" and often environmentally sustainable alternatives are not examined at all, but immediately discarded. Brander suspects that this is also due to the unrivaled low prices of the DDT sprays. However, critics of the DDT use see an even wider connection. They assume that the manufacturers will force their way into the markets of the nations, where DDT use is still possible against the background of the fight against malaria.

Some African countries still rely on DDT to prevent the use of DDT in the poorer African countries, on April 26 the representatives of the Stockholm Convention from politics, industry and associations met in Geneva and also about alternatives in the Advice on mosquito control. However, without a direct result like the "ZEIT" reports. For example, the use of the insecticide that has been used as a contact and feeding poison since the early 1940s remains high and enrichment via the food chain is expected to increase in the coming years. For decades, DDT was the most widely used insecticide worldwide, but it was precisely the accumulation in the tissues of humans and animals that ultimately led to an international ban on environmental toxins. As the "taz" reports, the African government is by no means squeamish when it comes to using DDT. For example, in Uganda the farms were sprayed by organic farmers, after which they could no longer sell their goods. (fp)

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