Mosquito Truck Foggers
One of my favorite childhood memories from the 1950s and into the 1960s is running behind the DDT truck. My mom would feed us early so we were finished with dinner in time to run after the mosquito trucks as they sprayed our neighborhood several times per week. Sometimes they sprayed every night with a thick and exciting blanket of fog. Similar to waiting for the ice cream truck, we couldn’t wait for the sound of the fogger motors as they rounded the corner to our street.
Kids would ride bikes, skate, and run behind The Mosquito Man, The Skeeter Man, Smokey Joe, Fogger Trucks – so many names. The DDT truck came to our beaches where mosquito populations were high. There was a poster I remember that hung on the wall of our school showing the government spraying school lunch room food to show there was no danger to the children (although I always wondered why the guys who were spraying wore hazmat suits).
It is one of those crazy things you remember when you think of how different times were then. But the world has gotten so “correct” about so many things. In the 1940s, Dr. Paul Muller won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his break-through findings on how DDT killed insects. Its use became widespread in the 1950s (80 million tons were used on US farmlands in 1958, and at one point there were 220 million pounds produced in the US in one year). By 1962, malaria, a horrid disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, was eliminated in the US primarily because of the use of DDT.
Was DDT Safe for Humans?
In years of use and in countless studies, it was found to be safe for humans, it doesn’t cause birth defects, and there are no serious side effects. (This has been challenged lately.) It has no odor (which I disagree with because I remember loving the smell of it). Called the “Atomic Bomb of Pesticides,” nothing comes close to its ability to kill the mosquitoes that carry malaria and typhus. But in our infinite wisdom, we banned it in 1972. Studies show it can be used heavily to kill off the mosquito population, and then use it sparingly afterwards to keep the pest population down.
ONE CHILD DIES EVERY 30 SECONDS in Africa, India, Brazil, Mexico, and other countries because they are not using DDT, which is inexpensive to purchase. In the year 2000, 300 million people had malaria, two million of them died from it, and one million of those were children. An infected bite can take up to four years to affect your kidney and liver. Environmentalists say that it MAY harm eagles. There is not yet proof.
Just a Memory of Running Behind DDT Truck
Be that as it may, this was supposed to be a recollection of a fun childhood memory of running behind the DDT truck, not an opinionated rant. Do any of YOU remember the DDT trucks?