Sunday, March 8, 2009

DDT Residue Continues to Present Risk in Guatemala

Environmental Minister, Luis Ferraté urged a study to determine the level of contamination by DDT that still remains in the soil and water sources in Guatemala.

Ferraté pointed out that even though its usage was stopped almost 50 years ago, DDT degrades very slowly, the chemical has not yet degraded, and remains active in Guatemala. As a result, communities that use water and land where DDT is concentrated are at risk.

The minister noted that in the 1960s a study was done in Guatemala which found that the milk was contaminated with DDT and Mr. Ferraté feels that now is the time to make a new database to see if the agrochemical contamination still is a threat.

He stressed that after 50 years in the environment DDT only loses half of its capacity. It will take another 50 years to degrade completely.

The insecticide DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) is an organochlorine compound, colorless, crystalline, soluble in fats and organic solvents and practically insoluble in water. DDT was created in the first half of the twentieth century and up to the 1970s was used intensively, by the million of tons, in all countries of the world to combat the insects that transmit malaria and typhoid. In the early 70s it was discovered that DDT had an impact on human health and on biodiversity in general, so its use was banned in developed countries.

Guatemala also prohibited its use at that time, but the hundreds of tons that were used are still active.

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