Medicine: Worse Than Insects?

When dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was first offered to the general public in 1945, the U.S. Army and Public Health Service warned that the wonder insecticide had better be used cautiously. No one knew much about DDT's long-range effect on human beings or on the balance of nature.

The warnings have often been repeated in technical journals. But the public, delighted with DDT, kept right on spraying closets, beds, kitchens and household pets. Whole communities were engulfed in artificially created DDT fogs. Gardeners and dairy farmers found it a quick means of destroying insect pests....

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