Although it is one of 12 highly toxic substances that countries around the world agree should be eliminated from the planet, 8,500 kilograms of the pesticide DDT have been sitting around in a Costa Rican warehouse for more than 20 years, the daily La Nación reported.
Under an international agreement, Costa Rica is obligated to eliminate all its DDT, which was used for decades to combat malaria and typhus. Prolonged exposure for long periods can cause problems to the nervous system and it could be a carcinogen, although countries began banning it in the 1970s because of its negative effects on the environment, particularly fish and bird species.
The dangerous chemical is on a list of 12 toxic chemicals – called persistent organic pollutants (POPs) – that must be eliminated from the planet under the Stockholm Convention, developed under the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
Costa Rica signed the convention in 2002, but the Legislative Assembly has not ratified it, La Nación reported. Ratifying the convention would make Costa Rica eligible to receive international funds to destroy the DDT by sending it Europe for incineration, according to the daily. Incinerating it would cost $4,000 a ton, or $34,000, not including overseas transport by boat overseen by safety officials, according to an official from the Ministry of Public Health.
The chemical is being stored in boxes and barrels with 1983 stamped as the year of production. They sit in a ministry warehouse in Pavas, a western district of San José. The importation and sale of DDT has been prohibited in Costa Rica since 1998.