Saturday, March 20, 2021

History of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane)

DDT was first synthesized by Othmar Zeidler in 1874 but its insecticidal qualities were not discovered until 1939 by the Swiss chemist Paul Muller.

It was initially used with great effect to combat malaria, typhus, and the other insect-borne human diseases among both military and civilian populations. It was a “wonder powder”, which successfully controlled not only Colorado beetle and other plant pests, but saved also many thousands of lives during World War II by controlling insects transmitting malaria and typhus in humans.

The American military began testing it in 1942 and it quickly became the cardinal weapon used by the military to protect troops in areas laden with vector-borne diseases such as typhus and malaria.

DDT also was effective for insect control in crop and livestock production, institutions, homes, and gardens. The reason why DDT was so widely used was because it is effective, relatively inexpensive to manufacture, and lasts a long time in the environment.

DDT is indeed toxic. It has a disastrous effect on a variety of freshwater and marine beings. It was found to cause eggshell thinning in birds, especially eagles and hawks, which caused decreased reproductive rates.

Applications on crops, commercial plants, wood products, and for building purposes were cancelled by the USDA in 1970. In 1972, EPA issued a cancellation order for DDT based on its adverse environmental effects, such as those to wildlife, as well as its potential human health risks.
History of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane)

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