DDT — toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Thursday, December 07, 2017 by

DDT, also known as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, belongs to a class of pesticides called organochlorides. It is a synthetic chemical compound that doesn’t occur in nature. DDT appears as a colorless, crystalline solid.

DDT is one of the most controversial chemical compounds in recent history. While it is effective as an insecticide, its potent toxicity isn’t limited to insects. The use of DDT is banned in many countries, like the U.S., but it is still used (legally or illegally) in some places.

DDT can’t be dissolved in water, but it is easily dissolved in organic solvents, fats, or oils. Since it can dissolve in fats, DDT can build up in the fatty tissues of animals exposed to it. This accumulated build-up is known as bioaccumulation, and DDT is described by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a persistent, bioaccumulative toxin.

Due to this bioaccumulation, DDT remains in the food chain. It moves from crayfish, frogs, and fish into the bodies of animals that eat them. The bodies of animals near the top of the food chain, such as predatory birds like eagles, hawks, pelicans, condors and other meat-eating birds, often have the highest DDT levels.

DDT’s trade names and identifiers include:

  • Clofenotane
  • Chlorophenothane
  • p,p’-DDT
  • dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane
  • 4,4′-DDT
  • Zerdane
  • Arkotine
  • Benzochloryl
  • Bovidermol
  • Estonate
  • Guesarol
  • Santobane
  • Agritan
  • Anofex

List of known side effects

Exposure to DDT can cause symptoms such as:

  • Hypersensitive to stimulation, a sensation of prickling, tingling or creeping on skin.
  • Headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incoordination, tremor, mental confusion, hyperexcitable state.
  • In severe cases: convulsions, seizures, coma and respiratory depression.

DDT is highly toxic, and it may be fatal if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin. Avoid any skin contact with this pesticide. Effects of contact with DDT or inhalation may be delayed.

DDT can cause damage to the organs through prolonged or repeated exposure. It is very toxic to aquatic life, with-long lasting effects. This substance is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.

Body systems affected by DDT

DDT also has serious health effects on humans. According to the EPA, DDT can cause liver damage including liver cancer, nervous system damage, birth defects, and other reproductive harm.

Items that can contain DDT

DDT was used to control insect vectors of disease, especially malaria. DDT was used to control pests like mosquitoes, houseflies, body lice, Colorado beetles, and gypsy moths. It was applied on agricultural crops, domestic houses, offices, commercial and industrial situations, non-cropped sites such as roads and rights-of-way, and parkland.

How to avoid DDT

Always wear proper protective gear when handling DDT. To protect against its toxic effects in areas where there may be detectable amounts of DDT (e.g. formulation and application activities) workers should wear protective clothing (like neoprene gloves and an apron) and a self-contained or supplied-air respirator with a full facepiece and operated in positive-pressure mode.

Practice personal hygiene when handling this pesticide, such as the daily cleaning of protective equipment and clothing and washing of exposed skin with soap and water before eating and at the end of the work day.

Where to learn more

Summary

DDT, also known as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, belongs to a class of pesticides called organochlorides.

DDT can cause liver damage including liver cancer, nervous system damage, birth defects, and other reproductive harm. This substance is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.

DDT was used to control insect vectors of disease, especially malaria. DDT was used to control pests like mosquitoes and houseflies.

Sources include:

TheSpruce.com

PubChem.NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov

PesticideInfo.org

SiteM.Herts.AC.uk



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