Warning against DDT spraying

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 01 May 2010

South Africa should start looking for alternative solutions to control malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Using DDT to curb the spread of malaria has been proven by researchers to pose a huge risk to human beings.  According to the latest research conducted by the CSIR and the University of Pretoria, and funded by the Water Research Commission, consuming chicken, fish and vegetables produced in DDT-sprayed areas is putting people at risk of developing illnesses such as cancer.


A study was conducted in Vhembe District Municipality with sites at Lotanyanda, Hasana, Tshikonelo, Xikundu Weir and Mhinga.  These villages are situated in Limpopo province and make use of water from the tributaries of the Luvuvhu River system, and Albasini and Nandoni Dams.

The study followed a recommendation for further research made by a group of international researchers, who reviewed 494 studies that investigated human health consequences of DDT use in 2008.

Spraying with DDT to control malaria has been an ongoing annual practice in Limpopo Province since 1996. “Ingestion of chicken or fish and vegetables grown in DDT-sprayed areas poses a high risk of cancer and toxic effects” says Annatjie Moolman, WRC Research Manager responsible for the study. “Ingestion of water does not contribute largely to the calculated risk of developing cancer.’’

The study also highlights that DDT is an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) adversely affecting the development of hormones and causing alterations in development. Exposure of male embryos to EDCs during the early stages of fetal development has been linked by previous studies to increased incidences of male reproductive health disorders, including hypospadias, undescended testes, intersex, subfertility and testicular cancer.

According to the Stockholm Convention, signed by 100 countries in 2001, DDT should be used with caution only when needed and when there are no other affordable alternatives available.The Stockholm Convention compels countries to provide an implementation and management plan to limit and reduce reliance on DDT spraying.

– Annatjie Moolman

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