A Brief Description of DDT
DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) is a synthetic insecticide developed in the 1940s. When first used to combat malaria, typus and other insect-borne human diseases, it was highly effective and due to its quick success, it was soon broadly used across the United States. Although DDT did have great benefits, it also proposed certain hazards to humans, animals and the environment.
The Benefits of using DDT
DDT is severely useful when combating malaria, typhus and other insect-borne diseases. Although DDT cannot defeat sicknesses after they have entered the human body, DDT can certainly prevent insect-borne sicknesses from spreading by killing the insects. It is also very useful for insect control in crop and livestock production, institutions, homes and gardens. (2) DDT was primarily preferred thanks to its high insecticidal activity, little mammalian toxicity, wide spectrum use, low cost and long duration of activity.
The use of DDT severely lowered the overall malaria transmission rates across the globe up to 90%. This was until DDT was banned, for malaria death rates have begun to rise once more since the early 1990’s. (1)
DDT was also severely useful when handling pests such as mosquitos. It (DDT) was a very popular tool when keeping insects off of crops during the times before 1972 and after the 1920’s.
The Hazards of using DDT
Although DDT certainly has its benefits, it also does propose certain dangers to the human body, animals and the environment.
Following an exposure to a highly concentrated dose of DDT, the human body can show symptoms of vomiting, tremors or shakiness, and seizures. Also, laboratory research shows that DDT may have negative effects upon the liver, reproduction system, and hormonal system. DDT is also considered as a possible human carcinogen, meaning that it can certainly form cancer within the human body. Possible cancerous results of DDT are liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer, breast cancer, leukaemia and lymphoma. DDT can also have a poisoning hazard to children from accidental ingestion, temporary nervous system damage, and development effects. (1)
DDT also negatively affects the reproduction system of birds, thus decreasing the reproductive rates of birds. This is because DDT causes egg shell thinning and embryo deaths. DDT is also highly toxic to aquatic animals, for it negatively affects various systems, such as the brain and the heart, within aquatic animals.
DDT also is very difficult to extract from water, and it can last within water for about 150 years. (3) This, along with how toxic DDT is to especially aquatic animals, greatly harms the environment. Also, DDT can last from 2-15 years in soil, and even after it breaks down, the two products of broken-down DDT have similar properties to the original product. (4) Thus, not only does DDT not break down easily, even after it breaks down, what it leaves behind is still highly toxic to the exposed environment.