Conference To Examine Impact of DDT
Is DDT a killer or a savior? Is it really possible that DDT could be back on the sales shelf in the not-too-distant future?
With some special interest groups questioning the national and international restrictions on the use of DDT, Alma College and the Pine River Superfund Task Force are organizing an international conference that examines the impact of DDT on human health and the environment.
The Eugene Kenaga International DDT Conference on Environment and Health will take place March 14, 2008 at Alma College. It will bring together international experts to frame and lead discussions of current knowledge of DDT and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
Participating scholars in the areas of public health and the environment include Riana Bornman and Tiaan de Jager of the University of Pretoria in South Africa, Aimin Chen of Creighton University, Barbara Cohn and Brenda Eskenazi of the University of California at Berkeley, Amy Dailey of the University of Florida, Suzanne Snedeker of Cornell University, and John Giesy of the University of Saskatchewan. Others are expected.
Dailey, a 1997 Alma College graduate, will present a luncheon speech on community involvement in public health. Giesy, Canada Research Chair and a world-renowned expert in industrial pollutants and their effects on the environment, is a 1970 graduate of Alma College.
“This conference has grown from three related developments: the on-going massive remediation of contamination arising from DDT production in St. Louis, Mich., recent efforts to undermine international restrictions on DDT use, and Alma College’s long-time emphasis and focus on environmental health,” says Edward Lorenz, Public Affairs director and faculty member at Alma College.
The conference resulted in part from efforts by a group of Alma College students to sponsor a global public health forum that began with conversations during the Center for Responsible Leadership’s International Leadership Institute held at Wroxton College in Oxfordshire, England, last August, says John Leipzig, director of the Center.
“Students are fully involved in organizing and hosting this important conference,” says Leipzig. “Our Fellows are expected to be able to demonstrate their leadership training and skills in the development and staging of a major public issues event before they graduate.”
The idea of hosting this particular conference occurred when students and faculty became aware of an international media campaign that questions the national and international restrictions on the use of DDT, says Lorenz.
“Our goal is to bring together international experts and concerned citizens to discuss what is known and needs to be known about the impacts on human health and the environment arising from exposure to DDT and other POPs,” says Lorenz.
DDT, or Dichloro-Dephenyl-Trichloroethane, is a synthetic pesticide that was used as an agricultural insecticide in the 1950s and ‘60s. Concerns regarding its effect on human health eventually rose in the 1960s, and most uses of DDT were banned in the United States in the 1970s.
The conference is jointly sponsored by the Alma College Center for Responsible Leadership, the College’s Public Affairs Institute, the Ohio Valley Chapter of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), and the Pine River Superfund Task Force, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency community advisory group.
The Superfund sites in the Pine River watershed resulted from the massive dumping of byproducts from the production of DDT and a fire retardant based on polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) by Velsicol Chemical Company more than 30 years ago. In addition, PBB was erroneously mixed with animal feed in a 1973 food contamination incident that was undetected for more than a year.
The conference is named after Kenaga, a former national DDT scholar and research scientist with the Dow Chemical Company who died in 2007. In 1968 he served on an advisory panel for Michigan Gov. George Romney that recommended the restricted use of DDT in the state. He was one of the founders of the International Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) and served on a variety of EPA advisory panels.
For conference registration information, visit the DDT Conference Website.
Posted: Fri, December 14th, 2007 at 3:07PM