"Silent Spring" Exposing the truth and the hidden dangers of DDT

Essay by mrdevenHigh School, 12th gradeB, October 2008

download word file, 8 pages 4.5

For many decades Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane, also known as DDT, was considered a wonderful chemical for controlling insects. Silent Spring written by Rachel Carson in 1962 exposed the hidden dangers of indiscriminate spraying of DDT and other pesticides. In chapter fourteen Carson suggests that DDT and other pesticides could possibly cause cancer. She also exposed that the agricultural use of DDT and other pesticides was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds, and would eventual harm man at the end of the food chain. Carson also wrote about alternative methods for controlling insects in Silent Spring.

Despite DDT's controversial past, it is still used for controlling mosquitoes that carry malaria. DDT was first made in 1874, but it was not until 1939 that its insecticidal properties were discovered by Paul Hermann Müller. Müller was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1948 for his discovery of DDTs insecticidal properties. DDT was used during World War Two to impregnate the troupes' fatigues to protect them from mosquitoes spreading malaria, typhus, and other insect-borne diseases.

Many cities in Italy were dusted to control the typhus carried by lice to protect the allied troops. DDT had been accredited for the disappearance of malaria in Europe and North America. After the war DDT was made available for use as an agricultural insecticide, and shortly after that it was available for home use.

During 1955 the World Health Organization started a program to eradicate malaria relying on DDT as its main weapon in its war. The program relied mainly on DDT because it was cheaper and more effective than other pesticides. The program was successful in many areas but eventually the insects started to develop resistance against DDT. When the World Health Organization realized that the eradication of malaria would never be achieved, it abandoned...