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Growing up with DDT March 9, 2009

Posted by samwyse in Autobiographical.

My family moved around a lot while I was growing up. I was born in Mississippi and lived in Texas and Florida before I started kindergarten. It’s in kindergarten that you’re first expected to memorize your home address and phone number, and (for me at least) it’s the only address I still remember from my childhood.
That address is 802 Tipton, Dyersburg, Tennessee. According to Zillow, the house was built in 1957, covered 2,249 sq.ft. and has 1.5 baths, which mostly agrees with my recollections. The house sits on the corner of Tipton Avenue and Moody Drive, and really the only neighbors that had kids my age were on Moody; George and David in the house next door and LuAnn who lived kitty corner, if that term can be applied to a tee intersection. On the other hand, Moody was a fairly steep uphill climb from Tipton, so everyone would play in front of my house.

Besides the ice cream trucks, one of my frequent summer experiences was the weekly passage of trucks spraying DDT to
combat mosquitoes.  Every kid on the block used to run
behind the trucks “playing in the fog”.  Long term effects have occasionally been reported by others, but no one that I knew had any ill effects.  I’m pretty sure that all of the parents knew what the kids were doing, and didn’t mind.  They probably felt that it was good for us.  My own father would routinely add a bit of DDT to the bucket when painting the exterior of the house.  He said that it repelled gnats, keeping them from landing in the wet paint, getting stuck and ruining the surface.

My personal belief is that the proven benefits of DDT far outweigh any imagined negatives.  The massive amounts ingested by myself, my siblings, and children across the southern US should have shown some side effects by now.



1. Ed Darrell - March 17, 2009

But the dangers of DDT far outweigh the imagined benefits, and according to the National Academy of Science, the real dangers outweigh the real benefits.

DDT killed the top predators in countless thousands of ecosystems, and that was a start. But for our cessation of use in the U.S., the bald eagle, brown pelican, peregrine falcon and osprey would be extinct by now.

We can live well without DDT. Let’s.

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