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A toxic history lesson

  1. Jun 6, 2010 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    Be sure to watch the first couple of minutes. The old DDT commercial is hilarious.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2010 #2
    seemed to be missing the key part about DDT being harmful to humans. there used to be a college professor that would eat a spoonful of DDT in front of his class to make the point.
  4. Jun 6, 2010 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    I saw something similar on YouTube. Of course we now recognize that such stunts are just that, stunts, and trivial.


    This was another interesting video
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2010
  5. Jun 6, 2010 #4
    you can do better than this. sure, DDT is bad for birds, i'll take that for granted. there seems to be some actual science about it. but for humans? i don't think i've ever heard of it. it's one thing for CNN to use DDT as an example about protecting the environment, but to extrapolate that to dangers for humans and OMG, the CHILDREN!!, is a bunch of alarmist, ignorant hogwash.

    even the birth defects on those frogs we know to be caused by parasites.

    personally, i have concerns about BPA and phthalates, and think we need to be careful about these things. but let's try and be intelligent about it.
  6. Jun 6, 2010 #5


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    DDT is very good for children, especially if you happen to live in an area with malaria.
    Of course the people banning it because there might be traces of it in their wild salmon aren't living in places where they are going to catch malaria.

    It's interesting to compare how quickly DDT got banned compared to getting lead removed from gasoline.
  7. Jun 7, 2010 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    For the facts about DDT.

    http://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Actives/ddt.htm [Broken]

    In spite of objections from PF members [who weren't even born yet], this was settled in the US long ago. DDT is banned. The start of the environmental movement is often attributed to Rachael Carson - a biologist who wrote the book, Silent Spring, which in part documented the effects of DDT. The book was published in 1962.
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  8. Jun 7, 2010 #7
    I don't see why this matters. The point being made is that it is incorrect and intellectually dishonest to try and suggest that DDT is chemically harmful to humans. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

    It also does not matter that DDT is banned. The major reason that DDT got banned was because of OVERUSAGE which lead to enviromental problems. I'm pretty sure the science shows that proper usage of DDT has no subsequent enviromental or human health problems. In fact using DDT basically kills off malaria and when you stop using it malaria comes back.
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  9. Jun 7, 2010 #8
    Views on toxic things always change.

    This is why I start every morning with a shot of TCDD.
  10. Jun 7, 2010 #9
    y'know, you're just going to have to pick your poisons. literally. without pesticides, we'll have a lot less crop yield. agriculture will become less "green" in the sense that we'll require more petroleum and water to make the same amount of food.

    and speaking of endocrine disruptors, how come they aren't alarmed by what we're doing to ourselves directly? http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-03-10-drugs-tap-water_N.htm perhaps we've weighed the social costs of not having so many women on birth control and decided that we are OK with it.

    now, does CNN have any specific concerns that would interest us? something other than just "pesticides". i may not be as grey as you, but i do at least remember that our past scares were at least specific and contemporary. what specific pesticides should we be concerned about today?

    oh, and i think your link must mean mcg/kg when they say mg/kg. those numbers just don't make sense and make me question the rest.
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  11. Jun 7, 2010 #10
    We may be lucky that DDT called the pesticide issue to our attention. Some of the pesticides that replaced DDT are much more toxic and or carcinogenic.

    I can remember when chlordane cylindrical dusters for the garden replaced DDT. Most of the replacements for chlordane have now also been banned.

    Chemical compounds meant to kill living creatures will kill living creatures. Toxic chemicals can be found in even the most remote parts of the earth.

    All we have managed to do so far is to replace one with another which we eventually find to be just as bad.

    Banned pesticides:

  12. Jun 7, 2010 #11
    DDT has effects on non-humans, such as the thickness of bird shells. This is of some concern for those who like eagles and the like. :rolleyes:
  13. Jun 7, 2010 #12
    Mmmm sweet organophosphates... just spray my yard with Tabun and get it over with! :wink:
  14. Jun 7, 2010 #13
    One problem with DDT is the fact it is fat-soluble, not water-soluble. If you were ever exposed to something like DDT or Chlordane, you still have it in your system. That's what caused it to bioaccumulate.

    I have no problem banning things that stay in the body forever in place of things that get filtered out of the body through normal waste removal processes.
  15. Jun 7, 2010 #14
    I'm not sure about the ethics of testing pesticides on humans in longitudinal studies. Keeping DDT in use while those studies were being performed is no different than human experimentation without consent.

    I was in pest control for 6 years, so I'm more concerned about the techs out there exposed to fat-soluble pesticides on a daily basis. Chronic exposure becomes more of an issue, and I don't think it's fair to them to do a 20-30 year study to find out whether its harmful to humans.

    We already know it's harmful to other vertebrates.

    I'd rather the powers that be test chemicals that only run the risk of acute exposure. I'm not a biologist, so I could be way off base, but I imagine it's easier to test the effects of acute exposure than chronic exposure over the course of decades.
  16. Jun 7, 2010 #15


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    I twitch a bit when the media use terms like "toxic". Nice, flashy word, but what does it mean, really? Even water can be "toxic". The dose makes the poison...or, as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracelsus" [Broken] said some 500 years ago...
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