DDT or 2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1,-trichloroethane, chlorinated hydrocarbon compound used as an insecticide. First introduced during the 1940s, it killed insects that spread disease and fed on crops, and Swiss scientist Paul Müller was awarded the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering (1939) DDT's insecticidal properties. DDT, however, is toxic to many animals, including humans, and it is not easily degraded into nonpoisonous substances and can remain in the environment and the food chain for prolonged periods. By the 1960s its harmful effects on the reproductive systems of fish and birds were apparent in the United States, where the insecticide had been heavily used for agricultural purposes. After the United States banned its use in 1972, the affected wildlife population recovered, particularly the bald eagle and the osprey. Nevertheless, DDT use continues in parts of the world, particularly in tropical regions, to control the mosquitoes that spread malaria. In 2001 the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants called for the phasing out of DDT once a cost-effective alternative becomes available.

See D. Kinkela, DDT and the American Century (2011).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

DDT and the American Century: Global Health, Environmental Politics, and the Pesticide That Changed the World
David Kinkela.
University of North Carolina Press, 2011
One Cheer for DDT? Forty Years after Silent Spring, Resurgent Malaria Gives New Life to an Old Killer
Bocking, Stephen.
Alternatives Journal, Vol. 30, No. 4, September-October 2004
DDT and Malaria Prevention: Addressing the Paradox
Bouwman, Hindrik; van den Berg, Henk; Kylin, Henrik.
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 119, No. 6, June 2011
The Regulation of DDT: A Choice between Evils
Martin, Ashley K.
Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 41, No. 2, March 2008
The Polluters: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment
Benjamin Ross; Steven Amter.
Oxford University Press, 2010
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Miracle Bug Killer"
The Doomsday Spray
Johnson, Scott.
Newsweek International, Vol. 150, No. 13, September 24, 2007
DDT and Breast Cancer Revisited: New Findings in an Old Debate
Manuel, John.
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 115, No. 10, October 2007
Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane Burden and Breast Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis of the Epidemiologic Evidence
Lopez-Cervantes, Malaquias; Torres-Sanchez, Luisa; Tobias, Aurelio; Lopez-Carrillo, Lizbeth.
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 112, No. 2, February 2004
DDT Ban Breeds Death: A 1972 Insecticide Ban on DDT Literally Causes the Deaths of about a Million People per Year, Though an Extensive Investigation by the U.S. EPA Found That DDT Is Safe
Hiserodt, Ed; Terrell, Rebecca.
The New American, Vol. 29, No. 12, June 17, 2013
DDT Linked to Miscarriages
Science News, Vol. 166, No. 20, November 13, 2004
Global Status of DDT and Its Alternatives for Use in Vector Control to Prevent Disease
Berg, Henk van den.
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 117, No. 11, November 2009
Examining DDT's Urogenital Effects
Lubick, Naomi.
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 118, No. 1, January 2010
Breast Cancer: The Link with Pesticides
Watts, Meriel PhD.
Women & Environments International Magazine, No. 76/77, Fall 2008
The Precautionary Principle: A Critical Appraisal of Environment Risk Assessment
Indur M. Goklany.
Cato Institute, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "DDT: Silent Spring or Silent People?"
Bountiful Harvest: Technology, Food Safety, and the Environment
Thomas R. Degregori.
Cato Institute, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Technophobia, Pollution, Pesticides, and DDT"
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