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04 Sep 2012: High Levels of DDT Found
In Breast Milk of Women in South Africa

A new study has found record levels of DDT in the breast milk of nursing women living in South African villages where the toxic pesticide has been used for decades. In samples taken from women in three malaria-stricken villages where spraying occurs inside homes, researchers found that DDT levels in their breast milk were more than 100 times greater than the highest daily dose recommended by the World Health Organization. In one sample, DDT levels were more than 300 times greater than allowed for cow’s milk, according to the study, published in the journal Environmental Pollution. “Based on the argument that ‘malaria is worse than DDT,’ people accept this spray treatment program,” said Henrik Kylin, a professor at Linköping University and one of the study’s authors. “The purpose of our project is to study the side effects, thereby creating a better basis for decisions.” Though officially banned by the UN in 2001, DDT is still used in Africa and elsewhere to eradicate malaria-carrying mosquitoes that kill nearly 900,000 people a year. DDT, which contains estrogen-like substances that can disrupt sexual development, has been associated with breast cancer, diabetes, impaired sperm quality, and neurological disorders in children, scientists say.

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