- A persistent organochlorine insecticide, also known as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, that was introduced in the 1940s and used widely because of its persistence (meaning repeated applications were unnecessary), its low toxicity to mammals and its simplicity and cheapness of manufacture. It became dispersed all over the world and, with other organochlorines, had a disruptive effect on species high in food chains, especially on the breeding success of certain predatory birds. DDT is very stable, relatively insoluble in water, but highly soluble in fats. Health effects on humans are not clear, but it is less toxic than related compounds. It is poisonous to other vertebrates, especially fish, and is stored in the fatty tissue of animals as sublethal amounts of the less toxic DDE. Because of its effects on wildlife its use in most countries is now forbidden or strictly limited.
|Abstract from DBPedia||
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, commonly known as DDT, is a colorless, tasteless, and almost odorless crystalline chemical compound, an organochloride. Originally developed as an insecticide, it became infamous for its environmental impacts. DDT was first synthesized in 1874 by the Austrian chemist Othmar Zeidler. DDT's insecticidal action was discovered by the Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller in 1939. DDT was used in the second half of World War II to limit the spread of the insect-borne diseases malaria and typhus among civilians and troops. Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1948 "for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods". By October 1945, DDT was available for public sale in the United States. Although it was promoted by government and industry for use as an agricultural and household pesticide, there were also concerns about its use from the beginning. Opposition to DDT was focused by the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring. It talked about environmental impacts that correlated with the widespread use of DDT in agriculture in the United States, and it questioned the logic of broadcasting potentially dangerous chemicals into the environment with little prior investigation of their environmental and health effects. The book cited claims that DDT and other pesticides caused cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds. Although Carson never directly called for an outright ban on the use of DDT, its publication was a seminal event for the environmental movement and resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led, in 1972, to a ban on DDT's agricultural use in the United States. A worldwide ban on agricultural use was formalized under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants which has been in effect since 2004. DDT still has limited use in disease vector control because of its effectiveness in killing mosquitos and thus reducing malarial infections, but that use is controversial due to environmental and health concerns. Along with the passage of the Endangered Species Act, the United States ban on DDT is a major factor in the comeback of the bald eagle (the national bird of the United States) and the peregrine falcon from near-extinction in the contiguous United States.