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Dreaming of DDT: Some info, & my thoughts

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  1. miseryinthed

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sat Jun 21 2008 16:14:48
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    Somewhere on Bedbugger.com, there's a whimsical photo of the quintessential glamorous 1950s housewife spritzing her kitchen with DDT, smiling from ear to ear (probably because she knows she'll never see a bed bug for the rest of her natural born life). I did a little research, and given my Libertarian upbringing, i naturally gravitated to sites (as long as they're cited) that challenge much of the hysteria wrought by the EPA and other goverment agencies over the past several decades. One I really like is JunKScience.com; it should be one of the first to pop up if you google DDT. Most folks interested in the legalization of DDT are primarily concerned with reducing the spread of malaria, a disease from which 2.7 million people die every year. Here are a few quotes I copied & pasted from the site (100 things you should know about DDT): http://www.junkscience.com/ddtfaq.html

    "In May 1955 the Eighth World Health Assembly adopted a Global Malaria Eradication Campaign based on the widespread use of DDT against mosquitos and of antimalarial drugs to treat malaria and to eliminate the parasite in humans. As a result of the Campaign, malaria was eradicated by 1967 from all developed countries where the disease was endemic and large areas of tropical Asia and Latin America were freed from the risk of infection."[Bull World Health Organ 1998;76(1):11-6]

    "Population control advocates blamed DDT for increasing third world population. In the 1960s, World Health Organization authorities believed there was no alternative to the overpopulation problem but to assure that up to 40 percent of the children in poor nations would die of malaria. As an official of the Agency for International Development stated, "Rather dead than alive and riotously reproducing." [Desowitz, RS. 1992. Malaria Capers, W.W. Norton & Company] (yes, CLEARLY these organizations value human life.)

    "To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT... In little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths, due to malaria, that otherwise would have been inevitable." [National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Research in the Life Sciences of the Committee on Science and Public Policy. 1970. The Life Sciences; Recent Progress and Application to Human Affairs; The World of Biological Research; Requirements for the Future.]

    "No correlation at the population level can be demonstrated between exposures to DDT and the incidence of cancer at any site. It is concluded that DDT has had no significant impact on human cancer patterns and is unlikely to be an important carcinogen for man at previous exposure levels, within the statistical limitations of the data." [IARC Sci Publ 1985;(65):107-17]

    "None of 35 workers heavily exposed to DDT (600 times the average U.S. exposure for 9 to 19 years) developed cancer." [Laws, ER. 1967. Arch Env Health 15:766-775]

    "Men who voluntarily ingested 35 mgs of DDT daily for nearly two years were carefully examined for years and 'developed no adverse effects.'" [Hayes, W. 1956. JAMA 162:890-897]

    And this, from the same site: (http://www.junkscience.com/news3/foxddt.htm)

    "The pesticide DDT was banned in the United States in 1972 after a long hearing on the risks and benefits of the material. DDT controls more than 20 serious human diseases including bubonic plague, yellow fever, encephalitis, and malaria, typhus, and plague. It has also been used beneficially to control a wide number of insects harmful to the agricultural and forestry industries.

    The DDT hearings were ordered by then EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus, appointing Judge Edmund Sweeney as the hearing examiner. After 125 witnesses and 9,362 pages of testimony, some of Judge Sweeney's findings included:

    1. DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man.
    2. DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man.
    3. The use of DDT under the registrations involved does not have a deleterious effect on fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds, or other wildlife.

    In a better world this would have been good news. It was met instead with journalistic hysteria across the nation."[DDT Updated:Michael R. Fox Ph.D. August 28, 1998]

    I love the T-shirt they have for sale: "DDT... A weapon of mass survival." I don't know if DDT will ever be back on the US market, but sure sounds like somebody needs to come up with SOMETHING better than the status-quo, because mathematically speaking, it seems the bed bug problem can only continue to increase- there's probably a logarithm involved somewhere. Info and education are definitely key, but the fact remains that those of us with internet access are a privileged few in the world, and i myself wouldn't know ANYTHING about bed bugs were it not for invaluable resources like this website.

    Dr. Paul Muller, the 1st guy to independently produce DDT, won the Nobel Prize in 1948. Unfortunately, the government has changed quite a bit since then in that its control over our rights and information has greatly increased (i don't expect everyone to agree w/ me on that, but i'd be happy to dialog OUTSIDE of Bedbugger.com; just PM me or something & i'll give you my email address). Until the next brilliant chemist pops up with an easy, affordable solution (though it'll probably be banned in due time), keep up the awesome work of educating & info-sharing, Bedbuggers! I don't know what i'd do without you guys... or Bedbugger.com!!!

    love, erin

  2. BakedBedBugs

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sat Jun 21 2008 19:00:36
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    Hi, Erin.
    There are people here who will know the numbers and the source better than I but I think the facts are: Mosquitos and Bed Bugs are largely resistant to DDT. It isn't the silver bullet people think it is.
    Tony

  3. Bugologist

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sat Jun 21 2008 21:13:51
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    Erin,

    First off I would love to know your position and reason for such a researched, well-written post. Although I don't share in your sentiments, your everyday person doesn't reference articles, articulate themselves in writing or have the time to write such a well-written post. It's obvious, some of this work must have been for a degree or other financed reason (job of some sort).

    I agree with BakedBedBugs that DDT is not the silver bullet many think it is. On the other hand, I don't think that as many populations of bed bugs are resistent to it as some research is claiming. I know there is a lot of information out there that there are large numbers of bed bugs that are resistent to pesticide, and I'm not saying it doesn't exist, but if so many were as resistent as some are claiming, most of your pest control companies wouldn't be able to get rid of them. I know on this site we hear a lot of sad stories about inept pest control companies, but many of them are finishing jobs more often then not. If so many bugs are resistent, that wouldn't be happening because a lot of pest control companies only use chemicals.

    That being said, bringing back DDT won't solve the bed bug epidemic. Would it help? No doubt about it. But the negative effects of it outweight the gains.

    I also LOVE the comment that if used according to label (regulations as you put it) it doesn't have deleterious effects on food chains. Do you realistically think people will only use it according to it's label? If you do, you're kidding yourself. People will overapply it and there's a reason why it was taken off the market. Whether or not it's carcinogenic or mutagenic I'm not sure as I haven't done my research, but it sure is to many species of wildlife, and that's all I need to hear. Many pesticides on the market in regards to their effect on bed bugs are terrible. I agree with you on that. And yes, I think that void is created by the EPA and their ridiculous regulations on pesticides. I'm not saying I value animals lives over humans, but there has to be a middle-ground. DDT isn't it.

    With more love,
    Bugologist

  4. miseryinthed

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 1:18:02
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    Hi, Bugologist! Only in my wildest dreams would someone be financing my research of anything bed bug related. I posted this because DDT is often mentioned in explainations of the resurgence of the bed bug population; several people have asked questions about it, and since i didn't know much myself, i thought it would be interesting to look it up and post some info here. As to your inquiry... work?? I'm sorry but i think that's funny. I copied and pasted some quotes from a website, and offered some of my thoughts to accompany them... I'm a 29 year old waitress with a basic college education; i'm currently in school studying diagnostic ultrasonography. I was originally a creative writing major; maybe that figures in somehow, though this isn't the kind of stuff i like to write.

    This was simply forum "food for thought"; not some kind of DDT battle cry or anything like that. I believe there are usually two (if not several) sides to the commonly accepted motives behind government mandates, and i was just curious about what the scientific community had documented with regards to the decision to ban DDT. I'm not so swift to agree with your statement: "the negative effects of it outweigh the gains." You did admit to not having done research... Not surprisingly, there seems to be a lot of data that conflicts with what has been widely acknowledged as the "truth" about this chemical. I don't claim to know what the truth is, i just wonder sometimes... thought others might too.

    Everything contained above within quotation marks is CITED work- not my words- i didn't "put" anything- that was Michael R. Fox, PhD. Again, these are not my claims or research (i thought that was pretty clear, since i stated that i was using quotes in the intro). I'm pretty sure you're in the majority when you state "there's a reason why it was taken off the market." But I posted this in part because i often question WHY things are taken off the market; it especially interests me when respected researchers offer data that contradicts what i've been told to believe. That stuff does tend to get political pretty quickly, and that's not what I'm here for... hope i'm not offending you, or anyone else with this!

    To sum it up: DDT seems to have been an intregal component in the improvement of living conditions in the early part of the 20th century for people around the globe. It is no longer available. I wish we had a comparable option ('solution' may be too optimistic, granted) to combat the bed bug problem, in terms of effectiveness and affordability. I'm very grateful for ALL the useful products and chemicals we DO have; MUCH better than nothing at all. Above all, i think awareness is an extremely potent combatant, and i applaud the creator of- and contributors to- this website for its outstanding capacity for education and community support. Bravo!
    xo, erin
    (Tony: this is another quote from the junkscience website: "There is persuasive evidence that antimalarial operations did not produce mosquito resistance to DDT. That crime, and in a very real sense it was a crime, can be laid to the intemperate and inappropriate use of DDT by farmers, especially cotton growers. They used the insecticide at levels that would accelerate, if not actually induce, the selection of a resistant population of mosquitoes." [Desowitz, RS. 1992. Malaria Capers, W.W. Norton & Company] So some mosquitoes ARE resistant; no info in this article about bed bugs.)

  5. miseryinthed

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 1:45:08
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    ps- i don't have tons of extra time on my hands; when i know what i want to say, it doesn't take long- i type about 70wpm.

  6. Bugologist

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 8:58:59
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    Erin,

    Fair enough. I apologize with my original post if it offended you. Your original post included so many well written sections it just felt like someone trying to impose an alterior motive (alterior motive isn't the phrase I'm really looking for but I can't figure out how to say what I mean).

    To get back on topic, DDT does have a lot of research backing the claims that it's not nearly as evil as people make it out to be. I agree that it's not and it has kind of become the scapegoat of the pesticide world. The reason why things spun out of control is because people used it outdoors and it built up in the food chain and destroyed food chains. It also takes forever to break down (which is why it was so effective) which for pest control is great but not for non-target effects. Even with all the research in the world, DDT will never be back on the market even if it's just because of the name that's now associated with it.

    As I said in my original post, there has to be a middle-ground. We do need better pesticides on the market. Maybe DDVP is that middle-ground. We'll have to see once they get it in an aerosol/liquid residual form.

  7. paulaw0919

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 9:28:42
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    Here's a discussion on DDT resistance from newyorkvsbedbug.org. I think both bugologist and misery are in agreement that there should be something put on the market that had similar results as DDT did at one time for the use of bed bugs. In a nutshell, it's pretty lame that in today's technology there isn't something out there already that is just as effective and more environmentally friendly.

    http://newyorkvsbedbugs.org/2008/04/12/no-ddt-thanks-were-good/

    and this

    http://newyorkvsbedbugs.org/2008/05/15/ddt-resistance-once-more-with-tables-and-sources/#more-57

  8. BBcoukHome

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 11:04:38
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    Hi,

    I am going to play the devil’s advocate a little on this one.

    It would be great if there was a better range of products available for Bed Bugs that is a fact that we all agree with. I don't encounter as much resistance issue as I see re-infestation issues but all technologies have to be used sensibly.

    One of the key issues with DDT was its wide spread inappropriate use building up in the food chain and as we know from modern bed bug studies they are pretty much resistant to DDT.

    Yes it may be possible to develop a derivative of DDT , a analogue or modified version but the fact remains bed bugs are biological creatures and will adapt. There is evidence that they have survived alongside man for as long as we have lived on the planet. Insects evolve and selective pressures will always become an issue at some point in time.

    This new insecticide or range of insecticides will be in development, I have heard of a few companies throwing significant efforts at it but the fact remains that any product will not be on the market for 6 to 8 years from initial research synthesis. Even if a product was sourced from another market and fast tracked through testing we are talking years not weeks.

    The best use of effort and resources at present is to educate and make aware of the issue. If people check and deal with infestations rather than allowing them to spread to neighbours, to spread through unprotected dumping of furniture, to pass them into public places and from hotel room to hotel room then something could happen in weeks or months. Namely a reduction in the number of infested locations and fewer people being accidently exposed to bed bugs.

    The best thing about this fact is that it’s easy for anyone to do something about. Talk to people about bed bugs, let them know it’s an issue that if they knew about it they could avoid.

    It all comes back to a phrase I heard on this forum first a few years ago, spread the word not the bed bugs.

    David

  9. miseryinthed

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 13:09:11
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    I totally agree with your conclusion, David. I respect the input from professionals in the business, as well as the feedback and helpful links to alternative POVs (thanks paula!). I found this link to a page written by a fellow bed bug battler, entitled "Myths about insecticide resistance". I prefer cited sources, as i said before, but it seems pretty logical.
    http://waronbedbugs.blogspot.com/2007/01/myths-about-insecticide-resistance.html

  10. bedbugvictimperthaustralia

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 18:53:10
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    Paula, thanks for the links, really interesting and disappointing to hear that most bed bugs are DDT resistant now.

    Back to setting them on fire the old fashioned way! Crispy bed-bug-on-a-stick anyone?


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