India's Hindustan Insecticide Limited (HIL) is the world's only company still producing DDT. This week, one of HIL's three factories was ordered closed by the Indian state of Kerala for that plant's failure to safely handle waste from the manufacture of endosulfan.
After issuing several warning letters like this one, Kerala's State Pollution Control Board finally issued a closure notice to the HIL plant based in the city of Eloor. Kerala banned endosulfan in 2002, and has been pressuring the Central (Federal) Indian government to enact a national ban.
The people of Eloor complain of pollution from the factory and related health impacts from the dirty manufacturing practices of HIL. Mass die offs of local wildlife such as birds, fish and frogs have been recorded in the area. And human health, especially women's health, has been undermined, with breast cancer and reproductive impacts rising in the region, according to a health survey conducted by the Kerala government this year.
A few years ago a study conducted by several independent and well-regarded Indian scientific institutions found that:
- Compared to a less polluted village in the same district, the chances of the inhabitants of Eloor city contracting cancer were 2.8 times higher.
- Children were at a 2.6 times higher risk of bodily deformities due to congenital and chromosomal aberrations.
- Chances of children dying due to birth defects had increased 3.8-fold.
Since that report, another study by Kerala’s Cochin University of Science and Technology has confirmed the high prevalence of DDT in locally available milk, fish, chicken and eggs.
We'll keep you abreast of how HIL responds.