It is clear that there is a lack of awareness about just how damaging DDT can be
It is good to see that Bangladesh -- thanks to a UN-led initiative -- is finally getting rid of its large storage of the toxic and illegal pesticide, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane or DDT, as it is commonly known.
It has been 34 years that a large cache of DDT has been stored at Chattogram Government Medical Sub-depot (MSD) and over the years, due to the effect of Bangladesh’s humid tropical climate on DDT’s molecular stability, the stock became severely degraded and largely obsolete.
In addition, in 1991, the area was exposed to severe floods, flushing DDT into the surrounding environment. As DDT persists in soil and water, this spillage had undeniable hazardous effects on people’s health within the locality, as well as on the local eco-system and environment.
While it is commendable that the government is finally addressing the issue, there are further problems. According to testing done by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, while DDT has been banned in Bangladesh for over 21 years, it is used in the drying process of fish, which remains a common source of protein for many Bangladeshis.
Thus, it is clear that there is a lack of awareness about just how damaging DDT can be, and there is further proof of this, because in Bangladesh, there is neither a strategy nor the capacity for collecting and disposing of hazardous wastes such as obsolete pesticides.
On a positive note, however, the government is showing urgency with its launch of the $42 million project called “Pesticide Risk Reduction in Bangladesh” in partnership with FAO, which hopefully marks its intent to combat a problem that has, for too long, affected the long term health and well-being of Bangladeshis.