As of 2015, nine nations use DDT to control outbreaks of malaria. These include countries in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda and Swaziland. India and North Korea also use DDT to combat malaria.
DDT was a widely used pesticide until 1972. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT due to concerns about its impact on the environment and human health. The pesticide takes more than 15 years to breakdown, and scientists continue to find DDT in the American environment as of 2015. DDT, a probable carcinogen, damages the liver, reproductive and nervous systems. Americans are exposed to DDT by eating contaminated fish or vegetables grown in contaminated soil. Food imported from countries that use DDT may also be contaminated. Infants may be exposed through contaminated breast milk. DDT is bio-accumulative, which means that amounts of the chemical increase up the food chain.
Under the 2001 Stockholm Convention, a United Nations-backed treaty that seeks to ban certain pesticides, DDT is permitted only for use in controlling malaria. Malaria is a mosquito-borne illness that kills almost a million people, mostly children, in sub-Saharan Africa every year. More than 100 countries signed the Stockholm Convention. In addition to nine nations that admit to using DDT, six others have reserved the right to use DDT to combat malaria, including China.