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A Toxics-Free Future

DDT & Malaria: Answers to Common Questions

International POPs Elimination Network Pesticide Working Group

DDT is a pesticide that was used heavily worldwide in the 1950s and 1960s both in agricultural production and for malaria control. Concerns about impacts on wildlife populations—particularly predatory birds—led to the phaseout of DDT in many countries in the 1970s. Use of the pesticide for malaria control has continued in some regions, though most countries now rely on combinations of other control methods.

DDT has been in the news in recent years as negotiations of the Stockholm Convention, an international treaty to phase out persistent organic pollutants, raised the possibility of eventual elimination of DDT and therefore its “loss” as a tool for malaria control. At the same time, much more is now known about the human health effects of exposure to DDT and its breakdown products. The Stockholm Convention was signed by 91 countries and the European Community on May 23, 2001. It will enter into force and become legally binding when it is ratified by 50 countries.

This document answers some common questions that arise in public discussions of the DDT issue.

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