Adding small amounts of seaweed to contaminated soil could prove to be a natural and effective way of breaking down the toxic pesticide DDT, according to new research in the Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology. A British biologist, Ian Singleton, worked with colleagues in Australia and Thailand to find the right formula to use. Too much seaweed hindered biodegradation, but the most effective mix – 0.5% seaweed added to waterlogged soil – managed to remove 80% of the DDT present over six weeks, lowering the levels of DDT enough to pass Australian Environment Protection Authority criteria.
Why it is necessary
Although DDT is banned in most of the industrial world, it is one of the most effective anti-mosquito agents available. Twenty five countries, including South Africa, still use it in the fight against malaria, despite strong opposition from environmental groups. If DDT could be more quickly broken down after use, the overall health benefits to countries with big malaria problems could be enormous.
Rosamund Snow | alfa
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