Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, commonly known as DDT, has a normative half-life of 2-15 years. This means it can take 15 years for 50% of the chemical to break down.
by friday i am 50% used up tho i’m tired i make my weekly pilgrimage taking foodscraps up to the compost bins at the innermost gardens
DDT was banned in Aotearoa in 1989. 21 years after it was first banned by Hungary; 27 years after the publication of Silent Spring.
as you walk up marjoribanks st the congress of sparrows makes way for tūī song sweeping across the evening soundscape
30 years later, 25% of the DDT used in 1989 can still be detected in the soil.
the winding path past the entrance is dotted with marigolds to welcome bees large parts of the gardens are being restored week by week
DDT is colourless, tasteless and mostly odourless.
you stand in the gardens & know it is coming to terms with the cruelty the topsoil puts on brave face
When DDT breaks down it forms Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) and Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (DDD).
at the innermost gardens community gardeners are trying to salvage the damp earth they are planting mushrooms to cleanse Papatūānuku they are making a web of healing fungi to extract pollutants the gardeners sweat into the soil the planter boxes are providing sustenance pūhā pikopiko horopito
While DDD is classed a probable human carcinogen, the main issue is DDE.
i can breathe in the gardens in a way i can’t in the city the air rich full of love & nutrients
DDE is fat-soluble so it builds up in animal tissue. In this way it is like the lead in lead petrol and the fallout from atomic bombs. Unlike other poisons (i.e. 1080) which break down naturally, the only time DDE is removed from the body is when it is passed to the animal’s young via breast milk.
the burdens of inheritances are great in the past 13 years i have accumulated a necklace from my grandmother & half the world’s plastic production
DDE and DDT are stored in bodyfat and when one animal eats another the substance is transferred. This results in what is termed ‘biomagnification,’ meaning each level of the food-chain accumulates more of the substance.
i am constantly reassured we are at the top of the foodchain in fact there are two kfcs within walking distance of me today i saw row after row of cars run over the carcass of a tarāpuka which is to say magnification i.e. the closer you look the worse it gets
Biomagnification threatens predators most, especially apex predators like native birds.
mycoremediation is a process that uses fungi to decontaminate the soil it is a process of healing it requires patience and care it requires sacrifice the linking of whenua to hauora
In 1948, Paul Hermann Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his discovering the insecticide properties of DDT.
the mechanisms of degradation are not always clear but the results seem to make themselves apparent every billionaire’s wikipedia page says philanthropist
The success of DDT led to the expansion of the pesticide corporations, famously Monsanto, which also produced 2,4–D, an ingredient in Agent Orange.
the culprits of degradation have their own private gardens when you run your hands through the soil you see nothing when i wake i taste metal in my mouth
Many fungi are hyperaccumulators. They soak up the toxins and can later be removed from the soil.
how much am i driven by urges to help others at my own detriment
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring led to the formation in the USA of the Environmental Protection Agency.
you must believe in hope in the form of spring daffodils springing up when you have nothing left
There are ongoing efforts throughout Aotearoa to deal with DDT contamination, though more and more pesticides with long half-lives are entering awa, roto, moana and groundwater through agricultural runoff.
i place my feet in the gardens i stand in the gardens the soil doesn’t know whether to accept me i whisper to the earth how can we regain trust
In 2016, 60% of Aotearoa’s monitored rivers were unsafe to swim in.
the earth hurts
as it remembers
the whenua aches