The Pentagon has advised 2,000 homeless shelters to discard 1.5 million blankets donated by the military and later found to be contaminated with the pesticide DDT.
The Pentagon said Friday that it made the recommendation as a precaution, even though the Environmental Protection Agency determined that the blankets posed little or no health risk.The EPA banned DDT in 1972 as a cancer-causing substance.
"It's a sad day when the only assistance that a homeless person receives from our federal government is a blanket laced with DDT," Joan Alker, assistant director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, said in a statement.
The blankets were distributed over the past six years to shelters and local governments as part of a Pentagon program to distribute surplus property.
It was discovered this year that the 1.5 million blankets, along with 7 million uniforms, made since 1956 contained wool contaminated with DDT.