« Return to this article

Know the West

DDT still lives


Fallout” was an extraordinary report on the perils of modern-day pesticide spraying in Gold Beach, Oregon. Apparently, the consequences of DDT spraying epitomized in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 have sunk deep into our memories and are now almost forgotten, once again allowing history to repeat itself. Unfortunately, most people, including senior editor Jonathan Thompson (“Keep the spray out of the oatmeal”) believe that “DDT is long gone from this country.” It is not.
Although DDT is no longer used or produced in the United States today, we continue to find it in our environment. It can take more than 15 years to break down. DDT, and its breakdown products DDE and DDD, are persistent, bio-accumulative and very highly toxic, long-lasting substances that can build up in the food chain, eventually reaching levels that are harmful to both human and ecosystem health. The U.S. still monitors and finds DDT and its metabolites in our fish supply. Fish-consumption advisories are still in effect for DDT in many waterways, including the Great Lakes ecosystem. The facts are clear: DDT still lives on!

Linda Metzger
Littleton, Colorado