Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Many animal species, including the bald eagle, suffered serious declines in population because of excessive use of the insecticide DDT. Since the government's ban of the chemical, which remains in force, many endangered species have recovered. DDT is still used in some tropical countries and is permitted in the United States during public emergencies such as an outbreak of malaria. An excerpt from The Post of June 15, 1972:
The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday ordered the end of nearly all uses of DDT, giving conservation groups a notable victory in their long battle to ban the persistent pesticide.
In the decision, EPA Administrator William D. Ruckelshaus declared that the present volume of use of DDT in this country poses "an unacceptable risk to man and his environment."
"No warning or caution for use of DDT, even if followed, can over the long run prevent injury to living man and other vertebrate animals and useful invertebrate animals," his statement said.
Ruckelshaus further declared that while there is no proof that DDT causes cancer, the pesticide presents "a carcinogenic risk."
"The evidence of record showing storage in man and magnification in the food chain is a warning to the prudent that man may be exposing himself to a substance that may ultimately have a serious effect on his health," Ruckelshaus said.
The order is not effective until Dec. 31. Ruckelshaus said the ban was not immediate because the chief substitute to be used on cotton -- methylparathon -- is highly toxic and requires training for people who will apply it.
Manufacturers of DDT products said they will seek a revision of the decision in the courts. Within minutes after the order was announced here, lawyers for 27 manufacturing firms filed an appeal in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Almost simultaneously, the Environmental Defense Fund, which has launched the legal battle that resulted in yesterday's decision, filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals here contesting the effective date. ...
The order ended the application of DDT on cotton, now its principle use, on beans, peanuts, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, fresh market corn, garlic, pimentoes, in commercial greenhouses, for mothproofing and for the control of bats and rodents.
These were the remaining uses for the product that was once widely used about the home. That was before environmentalists, starting with Rachel Carson in her 1962 book, "Silent Spring," raised warning flags that DDT was destroying fish larvae and birds and was collecting in the food chain, threatening the health of man.