History of DDT
Alternatives to Aerial Spraying
In the recent years, there has been a growing number of concerns about the cause and effect of using large scale pesticides for crop and general insect control. The concerns have also centered on how these pesticides are applied. There have been correlations made between aerial spraying and its impacts on the health of the general population. Notably, majority of pesticides used in the control of insects are not selective. For instance, Naled, Resmethrin and Malathion have been found to kill all insects. The numbers of insects killed include those help in keeping other insects under control. Additionally, aerial spraying threatens lives of aquatic animals and birds (Hester & Harrison, 2007). More importantly, agricultural production is under threat owing to increased usage of pesticides. This is because researchers argue that the continued usage of pesticides can lead to the development of resistance genes in organisms making them hard to control. As a result, farmers incur economic costs and decreased production.
With the growing concern over public health and safety, many ways we use to operate have either been changed or eliminated altogether. As examples, the use of lead in house paint and asbestos as an insulation product, have been eliminated. Their removal is highly controlled and regulated. Regulations have been developed to govern the installation of electrical circuits and plumbing product. These have been implemented because of the growing awareness over health and safety (Hester & Harrison, 2007).
Research has also found that some pesticides used in mosquitoes contribute to immune suppression. Ideally, the suppression of the human system can lead to allergies, cancers, autoimmune disorder and lupus. For instance, Malathion is the mostly used pesticide and can cause neurotoxicity. Malathion can also cause headaches, diarrhea and nausea (Hester & Harrison, 2007).
It is time to stop aerial spraying and find other, less damaging mechanisms to deal with insect infestations. There is a reason for using aerial spraying of fire retardants for forest fires. The result being everything under the airplane is covered, not just the fire. I am proposing that we should stop the usage of aerial spraying and adopt safer practices to control insects. Aerial spraying has serious ramifications to the population, and to the planet.
According to Oregon State University, farmers use about 77% of all pesticides in the US. 10% of pesticides are used annually on forests and lawns for bug control. Home gardeners are often some of the most extravagant users. The average US homeowner uses 2 - 6 times more pesticide per acre than do farmers (Patricia, 2012). The total amount of pesticides applied on farms in the US has increased 170% between 1964 and 1982. This is despite the amount of farmland decreasing. Continued usage of pesticides has lead to various problems. For instance, officials from Lyon County, Iowa most recently blame aerial spraying for the fish kill in an unnamed stream that flows into Otter Creek. Three aerial applicators were seen flying in the area the day of the fish kill (Iowa Department of Natural Resource, 2014). This is occurring all over the United States. People may turn a blind eye to it, think that it is a shame and move on with their lives. These fish kills are not only killing fish, they are other forms of wildlife that live and feed off the ecosystem in the area. More importantly, fish are the source of food and live hood to some communities. Reduction of the fish community owing to aerial sprays will affect such communities and hence the likelihood of conflicts. Further, failing to control the amount of pesticides entering lakes, oceans and rivers will reduce the oxygen levels needed in aerating water. Low level of aeration in drinking water can compromise the quality. Application of Pesticides in farm nears water masses can kill aquatic plants essential for the survival of fish and marine insects (Iowa Department of Natural Resource, 2014). As a result, marine animals can be forced to migrate to other places looking for food and end up exposing themselves to predators (Patricia, 2012).
An editorial entitled “The Dangers of Pesticides, Go Organic Instead”, author Judith (2010) paints a grim picture of her personal experience with pesticides. The author grew up outside of Phoenix, Arizona. She recalls sitting outside with her family while crop dusters flew overhead. Her sister has been plagued with asthma and cancer. Both of her parents have battled cancer and her father died because of cancer. Judith (2010) herself has been suffering from immune problems and fibromyalgia. It is not certain that the pesticides were totally to blame. The fact the pesticides were applied by blanketing everything from the air certainly needs to be investigated. The results need to be forwarded to the legislative body so the appropriate actions will result (Judith, 2010). Why put something on our food that could lead to permanent health issues or even death? Judith (2010) points out that when the scientists went back to examine the atomic bomb testing sites in New York and New Mexico, they learned that every life form was killed. Plants and animals died, but the one living species that survived the atom bomb radiation were the insects. This is something to think about (Judith, 2010). Even though they are not using atomic bombs to kill off insects, can you imagine what chemicals are in the pesticides, and herbicides used to kill both plant and animals alike?
Judith (2010) states that the organic farmer knows they will lose a small portion of their crops to nature. Rabbits will attack your garden; potato beetles will eat some of your crop. Organic fruits and vegetables will not look as good as some that have been treated by chemicals. At what price are we willing to sacrifice so that our fruits and vegetables will look aesthetically pleasing? Reducing aerial sprays and encouraging organic farming will help in reducing the harmful effects of chemicals while at the same time safeguarding the environment.
History of DDT
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was discovered in a lab in 1873. It was not transformed into a pesticide until 1939. Dr. Paul Muller even won a Nobel Prize for this discovery. It was excessively used during WWII as a pesticide. After WWII, it was used on farms for insect control. Initially, DDT was an excellent product that transformed the agricultural sector. DDT aided in controlling insects seen to affect agricultural sectors. Some researchers argue that DDT is still an excellent product in controlling insects such as mosquitoes. This is because the product is cheap and highly effective in controlling malaria. It has also a long half-life and a broad spectrum of activity. However, DDT has been linked liver damage, reproductive complications and problems with the nervous problems (Duke University, 2010).
It was finally banned in 1972. Despite being banned 42 years ago, DDT is still used in other countries. Currently, the Great Lakes Region of America is seeing atmospheric deposition due to DDT use in other parts of the world.
As DDT breaks down, it takes on other forms which are equally toxic, such as DDE and DDD. It takes 15 years for DDT to entirely break down in our environment. DDT also affects American’s because it is used on the food that we import. It has also been found in fish that is imported into America. Infants can be exposed to DDT through their mother’s breast milk (DDT, 2011).
Harmful Effects of DDT
The first effect of DDT usage is that it causes air and soil pollution. DDT drifty occurs when molecules suspended in the air are carried by wind to other areas leading to contamination. The volatility nature of the DDT increases chances of being blown away by wind into far places threatening wildlife. These threats increase during times of high temperatures and low humidity. The threat posed by DDT sprays has led to legislations, which require non-crop plants to serve as windbreaks. It is also vital to note that DDT usage can fumigate the soil resulting to the production of volatile organic compounds. These compounds react with other soil chemicals forming tropospheric ozone (Acton, 2012). The current research reveals that the usage DDT and other aerial sprays hinder nitrogen fixation in soil affecting the health of plants. Specifically, DDT interferes with legume-rhizobium chemical signaling reducing the plant yield. Essentially, root nodule formation reducing the usage of nitrogen fertilizers in the agricultural sector.
The second effect of DDT is that it poses a threat to the life of predatory birds and marine life. This is due to the lipophilic property of the chemical. DDT has the ability to be transferred in the food chain with apex predators standing a chance of accumulating more chemicals compared to other animals in the same habitat. The Centre for Disease Control detected DDT in almost all samples of human blood in the year 2005 raising fears among the public about the long-term impacts of chemical to their lives.
The usage of DDT will likely affect the marine life of many organisms. This is because DDT causes eggshell thinning and the potentiality of egg breakages and deaths. Evidently, the detection of DDT in egg shell is considered scientists as the core reason of declining populations of bald eagle, osprey, brown pelican and peregrine falcon (Patricia, 2012).
Alternatives to Aerial Spraying
With all of the bad side effects that we see with DDT, the time is now to take swift action to curb all of its uses. We are an intelligent species that needs to learn from our mistakes. By continuing using DDT, more people will suffer from its poisons. We have over one hundred years of evidence that proves DDT is a harmful substance (Tjeerdema, 2012). It seems backwards to combat insects that kill our crops with something that will kill us.