Risk-Tradeoffs in Decision-making: The Malaria/DDT Dilemma

EPA Grant Number: U915604
Title: Risk-Tradeoffs in Decision-making: The Malaria/DDT Dilemma
Investigators: Pongsiri, Montira J.
Institution: Yale University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 1, 1999 through September 1, 2001
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice , Fellowship - Environmental


The central research question of my research is: what is the institutional capacity to assess the risks of the use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) to control malaria over space and time?. To answer this question, This project I will investigate study how managers of malaria control compare the risk of malaria with the risks of the methods used to control the disease, as well as the social, cultural, economic, and political context in which these decisions are made. The narrow definition of malaria as a problem of mosquitoes, fragmented authority, limited resources, and uncertainties in the estimation of the risk of DDT on human health and the environment contribute to a diminished institutional capacity to assess the risks of the use of DDT and other pesticides for malaria control.


During my visits to Mexico, I have interviewed vector-control workers, academics, representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and experts in government who are decision-makers on the use of DDT for malaria control. I will: (1) get an update on the Action Plan developed by the Commission on Environmental Cooperation to phase out the production and use of DDT in Mexico; (2) learn about the regulation and enforcement of the use of pesticides in Mexico, both in agriculture and in the control of vector-borne diseases; (3) learn about the interactions between academics, NGOs, and Ministry of Health officials who work on disease control; (4) learn about the influences of international policies on Mexican national policy; (5) gather epidemiological studies conducted in Mexico on the relationship between exposure to DDT, other chemicals used in malaria control, and the effects on human health and the environment; and (6) learn how cost/benefit analyses are conducted in determining the appropriate methods to manage malaria. I plan to collect more data through archival research, surveys, and personal interviews throughout Mexico. This will allow me to develop an understanding of decision-making processes andas well as of the relationships between and within national/regional/local levels of government and to international organizations, that enable managers to assess risks over space and time. Studying the institutional infrastructure of malaria control in Mexico can help identify factors that limit the implementation of effective alternatives to DDT in endemic areas.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, malaria, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, DDT, risk tradeoffs, risk assessment, risk management., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Health, Scientific Discipline, PHYSICAL ASPECTS, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Geographic Area, Health Risk Assessment, Epidemiology, Risk Assessments, Physical Processes, decision-making, International, Country & Regional Programs, Economics & Decision Making, Risk Assessment, Social Science, risk, risk characterization, exposure, pesticides, decision making, epidemelogy, disease potential, cost benefit, DDT, human exposure, malaria, human health risk, benefits assessment

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000
  • Final