What is DDT? And Why has its use been banned?
DDT is a pesticide.
The full name of DDT is ‘Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane.’ Its chemical formula is given below.
It is a colorless, tasteless, and almost odorless crystal-chemical compound. It is widely known as notorious for the environment.
Othmar Zeidler, an Australian chemist, was first Synthesized DDT in 1874. In 1939, the Swiss scientist Paul Hermann Müller discovered the insecticidal action of DDT.
It is first used to control insects that carry human pathogens, that is, to cause disease in the human body through bites; Such as malaria-carrying mosquitoes. In the second half of World War II, civilian and soldiers used it to control malaria and typhus of its effectiveness in controlling insects became known.
After World War II, DDT was begun to be used to control pests at home and in agriculture, with great success in controlling pests. The most successful insects are gypsy moths, potato pests, and corn earthworms.
Its success in agriculture and the control of disease-carrying insects made it widely known as a pesticide in the 20th century. Its discoverer scientist Paul Hermann Müller won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1948.
In October 1945, it was allowed to be sold everywhere in the United States for use in agriculture and home insect repellent. The government of the United States promoted its use and production. This has led to a resounding success in agricultural production and increased production by 30%.
In 1955, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the DDT program to control malaria-carrying Anopheles mosquitoes to reduce malaria deaths worldwide.
The program dramatically reduced the incidence of malaria in North America, Europe, the former Soviet Union, Taiwan, most of the Caribbean areas, the Vulcan region, parts of North Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific regional countries, and reduced malarial caused motility in India and Sri Lanka.
But its success could not last long.
In 1957, a report on DDT’s harmful effects in Nassau country, New York, was published in the New York Times, citing famous nature writer Rachel Carson. William Shawn, the editor of the New York Times, then asked Russell Carson to write more on the subject.
In 1962, Russell Carson’s World Ice Braking Book, The Silent Spring, was published. After the publication of this book, there was an uproar all over the world about DDT.
The book then topped the best-seller list, creating a new impetus for the environmentalist movement. The book highlights the toxicity of pesticides, including DDT, which is harmful to animals and the environment and public health and calls for the control of these toxic pesticides.
In 1963, the then President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, formed a committee with his science advisers to investigate the issues raised in Silent Spring. The report of the committee was published in the Science journal, and the report recommended the removal of persistent toxic pesticides phage by phage.
In 1967, DDT was dropped from the U.S. military’s supply and was replaced by lindane.
In 1967, anti-chemical and anti-pesticide activists formed a movement against DDT and established the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) with some scientists and lawyers.
At this time, Victor Yannacone, Charles Wurster, Art Cooley, and others observed bird extinction or bird population decline and suspected that the cause was by DDT. Around this time, toxicologist David Pickel noticed high levels of DDT in the eggs of the Peregrine falcon and the California Condor bird, which led to the idea that the eggs had thin skin.
In 1971, the EDF filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the delisting of DDT.
In 1972, a U.S. court ruled against the widespread use of DDT.
Between 1970 and 1980, most of the developed countries banned the use of DDT in agriculture. Hungary in 1986, Norway and Sweden in 1970, West Germany and the United States in 1972 banned the use of DDT in agriculture, but it took time until 1984 for the United Kingdom to ban it.
By 1991, at least 26 countries had entirely ban on the use of DDT, including pest control; For example, Cuba banned DDT in 1970, the United States in 1980, Singapore in 1984, Chile in 1985, and South Korea in 1986.
In September 1999, delegates from various countries met in Geneva to discuss controlling 12 harmful environmental pollutants. They decided to completely ban the four most harmful compounds like chlordane, dieldrin hepatic chlorine mirax. They agreed that in a step-by-step, harmful compound such as endorphins and toxaphene would be banned.
In 2001, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants was held on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) harmful to public health.
The conference decided to ban or limit the production and use of toxic bio-polluting pesticides, including DDT, and an agreement was signed in this regard. More than 170 countries signed the treaty, and it came to enforce in 2004.
Despite being banned worldwide, DDT is still being used in agriculture and malaria control in developing and poor countries such as the Indian subcontinent and North Korea. In 2013, worldwide DDT production was 3,000 tons to 4,000 tons, including 2786 tons in India.
The following are some of the other disadvantages of DDT:
- DDT residues remain from a few months to several years. It is absorbed by the body through the skin’s fatty tissue and reaches the stomach through the food chain of the body.
- Many studies have shown that chlorinated hydrocarbon residues have been found in the environment even after many years. It has a detrimental effect on the functioning of the organism’s endocrine system and damages the reproductive capacity of animals.
- Some scientists say that it degenerates the human body’s reproductive organs, thereby reducing the production of male reproductive cells and the decrease in fertility. This causes breast and prostate cancers.
- All pesticides, including DDT, destroy harmful insects and many beneficial insects, especially fish and birds.
These harmful toxic pesticides, like DDT, should be stopped urgently.