If you are close to my age, you remember in the mid-to-late-1950’s running behind the DDT trucks. My mom would feed us early enough that we were done with dinner in time to run after the trucks as they sprayed our neighborhood several times per week, sometimes every night, with the thick and exciting bank of fog. Much like waiting for the ice cream truck, we couldn’t wait for the sound of the fogger motors as they rounded the corner to our street.
Kids would ride bikes, skate, and run behind them. The trucks came to our beaches where mosquito populations were high. There was a poster that I remember that hung on the wall of our school showing the government spraying school lunch room food to show that there was no danger to the children (although I always wondered why the guys who were spraying it wore haz-mat suits).
It is certainly one of those crazy things that you remember when you think of how different times were then. But the world has gotten so “correct” about so many things. In the 1940’s, Dr. Paul Muller won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his break-through findings on how DDT killed insects. Its use became widespread in the 1950s (80 million tons were used on US farmlands in 1958, and at one point there were 220 million pounds produced in the US in one year). By 1962, malaria, a horrid disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, was eliminated in the US primarily because of the use of DDT.
In all of its years of use and in subsequent studies, it has been found to be safe for humans, it doesn’t cause birth defects, and there are no serious side effects. It has no odor. Called the “Atomic Bomb of Pesticides,” nothing comes close to its ability to kill the mosquitoes that carry malaria and typhus. But in our infinite wisdom, we banned it in 1972. Studies show that it can be used heavily to kill off the mosquito population, and then use it very sparingly afterwards to keep the pest population down.
One child dies every 30 seconds in Africa, India, Brazil, Mexico, and other countries because they are not using DDT, which is very inexpensive to purchase. In the year 2000, 300 million people had malaria, two million of them died from it, and one million of those were children. An infected bite can take up to four years to affect your kidney and liver. Environmentalists say that it MAY harm eagles. There is no proof of that at all.
Be that as it may, this was supposed to be a recollection of a fun childhood memory, not an opinionated rant. Do any of YOU remember the DDT trucks?