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What Is Ddt In Biology

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What Are The Top Tips To Avoid Exposure

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  • Wild fish often have high levels of pesticides, including DDT. Commercial fish that could contain dangerous levels of DDT include Atlantic salmon, American eel, wild striped bass and bluefish.
  • Limiting the consumption of animal fat can also reduce the risk of excessive exposure to DDT and DDE, as it is stored in fat.

Parada, Humberto Jr et al. Organochlorine insecticides DDT and chlordane in relation to survival following breast cancer. International Journal of Cancer 138,3 : 565-75. doi:10.1002/ijc.29806.

van den Berg, Henk et al. Global trends in the production and use of DDT for control of malaria and other vector-borne diseases. Malaria Journal 16,1 : 401. doi:10.1186/s12936-017-2050-2.

Ingber Susan Z et al. DDT/DDE and breast cancer: a meta-analysis.Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 67, 3: 421-433. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2013.08.021.

National Pesticide Information Center. DDT . Last modified 1999. .

Cone, Marla. Should DDT be used to combat Malaria?Scientific American May 4, 2009. .

White, Alexandra J et al. Exposure to fogger trucks and breast cancer incidence in the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project: a casecontrol study.Environmental Health 12, 24 . doi:10.1186/1476-069X-12-24.

Frontline. Primer: Legacy Pollutants. Last modified April 21, 2009. .

Use In The 1940s And 1950s

DDT is the best-known of several chlorine-containing pesticides used in the 1940s and 1950s. During this time, the use of DDT was driven by protecting American soldiers from diseases in tropical areas. Both British and American scientists hoped to use it to control spread of malaria, typhus, dysentery, and typhoid fever among overseas soldiers, especially considering that the pyrethrum was harder to access since it came mainly from Japan. Due to the potency of DDT, it was not long before America’s War Production Board placed it on military supply lists in 1942 and 1943 and encouraged its production for overseas use. Enthusiasm regarding DDT became obvious through the American government’s advertising campaigns of posters depicting Americans fighting the Axis powers and insects and through media publications celebrating its military uses. In the South Pacific, it was sprayed aerially for malaria and dengue fever control with spectacular effects. While DDT’s chemical and insecticidal properties were important factors in these victories, advances in application equipment coupled with competent organization and sufficient manpower were also crucial to the success of these programs.

What Evidence Links Ddt And Dde To Breast Cancer

DDT and DDE disrupt the function of the bodys own hormones, with DDT mimicking the actions of estrogen, and DDE mimicking androgens.

The most important and comprehensive set of studies linking subsequent development of breast cancer and exposures to DDT, especially during early development and pregnancy, come from the Child Health and Development Study . The CHDS is a large, long-term study that originally enrolled women in Alameda County, California between 1959 and 1967, very early during their pregnancies. In the first few days after the women gave birth, blood samples were taken from the mothers and stored. These blood samples have been tested for many chemicals, including DDT and DDE. Over the past 60 years or so, scientists have followed the health of both the mothers from this study as well as their daughters who are now approaching, on average, their mid-fifties. Several papers have reported important findings from the CHDS.,,

One study from Taiwan did look at age at exposure, although the data were gathered at the township level, i.e., how many times were hometowns sprayed when the women were young girls versus breast cancer incidence for nine birth cohorts from almost 350 towns. Results indicated that DDT exposure before the age of five years old was associated with an increased risk of cancer, and the results were strengthened as the number of DDT exposures increased.

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Short Historical Background Of Pesticide Use

Chemical substances have been used by humans to control pests from the beginning of agriculture. The first generation of pesticides involved the use of highly toxic, inorganic compounds. The first known pesticide to be used was sulfur. By the 15th century, toxic chemicals, such as arsenic , mercury, and lead, were applied to crops to kill pests. In the 17th century, nicotine sulfate was extracted from tobacco leaves for use as an insecticide. The fumigant hydrogen cyanide was used in the 1860s for the control of such pests as fungi, insects, and bacteria. Other compounds included Bordeaux mixture and sulfur. Their use was abandoned because of their toxicity and infectiveness. The 19th century saw the introduction of two natural pesticides: pyrethrum and rotenone.

At present, due to the possible toxic effects of pesticides on human health and the environment, there are strict regulations for their registration and use all over the world. Therefore, it is particularly important to know the properties of the substances used as pesticides. Knowledge of physicochemical properties, for example, the octanol/water partition coefficient and solubility in water, allows the fate and behavior of such chemicals in the environment to be predicted.

Pesticide use has increased 50-fold since 1950, and 2.5 million tons of industrial pesticides are now used each year. Table 1 shows the chronology of pesticide development in the world.8

Table 1. Chronology of pesticide development


How Ddt Affects Peoples Health

DDT the Environmental Assassin

Human health effects from DDT at low environmental doses are unknown. Following exposure to high doses, human symptoms can include vomiting, tremors or shakiness, and seizures. Laboratory animal studies show DDT exposure can affect the liver and reproduction. DDT is a possible human carcinogen according to U.S. and International authorities.

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Health Hazards Associated With Ddt

  • DDT is known to act as an endocrine disruptor. Therefore, exposure to this compound can result in interference with the endocrine system.
  • This compound is also suspected to be a carcinogen to human beings. However, it can be noted that many studies suggest that this compound is not genotoxic.
  • It can also be noted that DDT is classified as a moderately toxic substance by the US NTP . Indirect exposure to this chemical compound is believed to be non-toxic to humans.
  • DDT is also believed to interfere with the regular thyroid function in pregnant women.
  • This compound has also been linked to a higher risk of developing autism in children.

It can also be noted that DDT is classified as a persistent organic pollutant. This compound can penetrate soils and remain there for up to 30 years. To learn more about DDT and other pesticides, register with BYJUS and download the mobile application on your smartphone.

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Historical Background And Scientific Foundations

DDT was first synthesized in 1874. However, its insecticidal properties were not known until 1942. Then, , who was a chemist at the Swiss company J. P. Geigy , and who was engaged in research to find new insecticides to protect crop plants, demonstrated that spraying species of flies, gnats, and the Colorado beetle with DDT was lethal. He also demonstrated that the killing was due to the poisoning of the insects . His accomplishments were recognized by the awarding of the 1948 in physiology or medicine.

The ability of DDT to kill mosquitoes was soon discovered, which almost immediately led to the extensive use of the compound to control malaria . Since malaria then afflicted over 300 million people each year and killed at least three million, DDT was hailed as a wonder compound and soon became the most common option in programs designed to halt the disease.

In addition, DDT was licensed to use as an agricultural insecticide. By the late 1940s, DDT sprays and paints were being used routinely by farmers and homeowners to control insect pests.

The popularity of DDT grew through the 1950s. By 1959, use of DDT in the peaked at almost 36,000 tons.

A major reason for DDTs chronic effects is bioaccumulationthe accumulation in tissues of one species that is passed onto species higher in the . As a result, creatures including the ingest a much higher level of the toxin than they otherwise would and store the poison in fatty tissues, where it can persist.

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Do You Know What Is Ddt

The chemical compound DDT, or dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, has the formula C14H9Cl5. This chemical compound exists as a colourless and tasteless crystalline solid under normal temperature and pressure conditions .

Originally developed as an insecticide, it became notorious for its adverse effects on the environment. Othmar Zeidler, an Austrian chemist, was the first to synthesise DDT in 1874. In 1939, Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller discovered DDT’s insecticidal properties.

In the second half of World War II, DDT was used to prevent the spread of insect-borne diseases such as malaria and typhus among civilians and troops. Here, we will study dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, DDT formula, DDT powder and structure and uses of DDT in detail.

Pollutants And Their Sources

Biomagnification and the Trouble with Toxins

A pollutant is an undesirable substance added to the environment, usually by the activities of Earth’s human inhabitants. Some pollutants, such as the insecticide DDT are unknown in nature. Others, such as nitrogen oxide, NO, occur naturally , but become pollutants when they are added to the environment in excessive amounts. Still other substances, called secondary pollutants, are harmful materials formed by chemical reactions in the atmosphere or hydrosphere.

To estimate the overall damage from air pollution is difficultthere are so many ways in which such pollution can be harmful and costly . In one study of the economic effects of air pollution in 17 counties in the New YorkNew Jersey area, it was estimated that pollution cost $620 per family per year.

FIGURE 6.4. Effects of air pollution.

The five major air pollutants are carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, the nitrogen oxides, the sulfur oxides, and particulatesairborne solid particles and liquid droplets. Each of these pollutants is discussed in the sections that follow. Pollutants enter the troposphere and, with a few exceptions, their effects are felt there.

TABLE 6.5. The five major air pollutants


Emma Popek, in, 2018

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Ddt Facts Its A Poison

Well, everything is a poison, even pure water from a melting glacier from Greenland. If you understand anything about the field of toxicology, its the dose that makes the poison. Carson didnt discriminate between what constitutes a poisonous dose and what is not. In other words, she seemed to ignore the whole cost:benefit calculation that we must do to make reasonable scientific decisions.

In his article, The Lies of Rachel Carson, J. Gordon Edwards, who is way too pro-chemical industry for my taste, wrote that:

This implication that DDT is horribly deadly is completely false. Human volunteers have ingested as much as 35 milligrams of it a day for nearly two years and suffered no adverse effects.

But there is strong evidence that chronic close contact with DDT may have some known health risks, especially in endocrine disruption. But the whole point of dose makes the poison is that at what dose do the health risks outweigh the benefits? Carson appeared to take a false dichotomy approach to this discussion. Carson essentially says DDT is bad, ban it. The other side seems to say DDT is good, un-ban it.

What Are The Links Between Ddt/dde Exposures And Survival After A Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Two 2016 studies have looked at possible associations between DDT and DDE levels measured just after diagnosis in women with breast cancer and survival 5, 15 or 20 years after diagnosis. One found that women from Long Island with the highest levels of blood DDT at five years post-diagnosis had more than twice the rates of both all-cause mortality as well as breast cancer-specific mortality. At 15 years post-diagnosis, women with the middle third levels of DDT had had increased rates of both all-cause and breast cancer specific mortality.

In a study from North Carolina, with significant numbers of both Black and White women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and then followed for, on average, just over 20 years, increased levels of both DDT and DDE at time of diagnosis were associated with higher rates of all-cause mortality. Higher levels of serum DDE were also associated with increased breast cancer specific mortality, and this result was stronger in Black than White women, and in women diagnosed with ER-, as compared with ER+, tumors.

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Regulation Due To Health And Environmental Effects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal agency with responsibility for regulating pesticides before the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, began regulatory actions in the late 1950s and 1960s to prohibit many of DDT’s uses because of mounting evidence of the pesticide’s declining benefits and environmental and toxicological effects. The publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring stimulated widespread public concern over the dangers of improper pesticide use and the need for better pesticide controls.

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. Since then, studies have continued, and a relationship between DDT exposure and reproductive effects in humans is suspected, based on studies in animals. In addition, some animals exposed to DDT in studies developed liver tumors. As a result, today, DDT is classified as a probable human carcinogen by U.S. and international authorities.

DDT is:

  • known to be very persistent in the environment,
  • will accumulate in fatty tissues, and
  • can travel long distances in the upper atmosphere.

After the use of DDT was discontinued in the United States, its concentration in the environment and animals has decreased, but because of its persistence, residues of concern from historical use still remain.

Mechanism Of Insecticide Action


In insects, DDT opens voltage-sensitive sodium ion channels in neurons, causing them to fire spontaneously, which leads to spasms and eventual death. Insects with certain mutations in their sodium channel gene are resistant to DDT and similar insecticides. DDT resistance is also conferred by up-regulation of genes expressing cytochrome P450 in some insect species, as greater quantities of some enzymes of this group accelerate the toxin’s metabolism into inactive metabolites. Genomic studies in the model genetic organism Drosophila melanogaster revealed that high level DDT resistance is polygenic, involving multiple resistance mechanisms. In the absence of genetic adaptation, Roberts and Andre 1994 find behavioral avoidance nonetheless provides insects with some protection against DDT. The M918T mutation event produces dramatic kdr for pyrethroids but Usherwood et al. 2005 find it is entirely ineffective against DDT. Scott 2019 believes this test in Drosophilaoocytes holds for oocytes in general.

“Episode 207: DDT”, Science History Institute

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Where Are Ddt And Dde Found

Following World War II, DDT was mainly used as an insecticide on crops. It was banned from use in the United States in 1972. It is, however, still used to kill mosquitos in malaria-prone areas such as some sub-Saharan African countries as well as India and North Korea.

In countries where DDT is banned, it is found chiefly in agricultural sites. In these agricultural communities, legacy DDT can be found in low concentrations in the air and drinking water., All other communities are primarily exposed to DDT and DDE through food. These chemicals are commonly found in foods that contain animal fats where DDT accumulates, such as meats and fish.

What Are Ddt And Dde

DDT is a pesticide that was first used in World War II to control insects that carry human diseases such as malaria. It is also effective against insects such as the gypsy moth, which attack crops. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, DDT was used increasingly in agriculture.

DDT breaks down into several metabolites . The most common of these is DDE. Though the pesticide is not currently used widely in the U.S. and Europe, it still is used in Africa and, especially, India. It persists in human and animal tissues and soil for long periods of time. As a result, it is an ongoing concern for humans. DDT and DDE have long half-lives of about ten and five years, respectively. It is possible that the complete degradation of all existing DDT and DDE could take over 100 years.,

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Why Was Ddt Banned

DDT, or dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, is a colorless and tasteless chemical compound developed as an insecticide and its use was banned because of its role in the increased risk of serious health conditions in humans and animals alike. DDT was at the height of its popularity during the second World War. During this time, DDT was used to prevent diseases such as malaria and typhus. Though it was an effective insecticide, it was cause for concern when the chemical would also kill beneficial insects as well as birds and fish. Not only did DDT kill birds, but it also caused egg-shell thinning in Perregrine Falcons. This egg-shell thinning would make it much more difficult for the falcons’ young to be born. The egg-shell thinning was not the extent of the damage done by DDT. This harmful compound is thought to be a carcinogen as well as an endocrine disruptor. An endocrine disruptor is a chemical that interupts an endocrine system. In this case, a chemical called DDE is formed from DDE when it loses hydrogen chloride. DDE is an androgen receptor antagonist, meaning it will bind to the same receptor that male sex hormones bind to, decreasing the effect of certain hormones such as testosterone. The deleterious human and animal effects caused by DDT were far too prevalent to allow it to continue being used and it was banned in the United States in 1972.

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