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What is DDT?

Last updated date: 25th Feb 2024
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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 (STP). 

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.

DDT Structure

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Properties of DDT

  1. C14H9Cl5 is the chemical formula for dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. 

  2. This chemical compound has a molecular mass of 354.48 grams per mole. 

  3. This compound has a density of around 1 gram per cubic centimeter under normal conditions. 

  4. This chemical compound has a melting point of approximately 108.5 degrees Celsius (or 381.6 Kelvin). 

  5. This chemical compound's boiling point is approximately 260 degrees Celsius (or 533 Kelvin). It is important to remember, however, that when DDT is heated to this temperature range, it decomposes. 

  6. DDT has low water solubility. For all intents and purposes, this compound is water-insoluble.

Uses of DDT

DDT is available in a number of ways, including xylene or petroleum distillate solutions, emulsifiable concentrates, water-wettable powders, granules, aerosols, smoke candles, and vaporizer and lotion charges. 

DDT was widely used in agriculture from 1950 to 1980, with more than 40,000 tonnes produced per year worldwide, and a total of 1.8 million tonnes produced globally since the 1940s. Monsanto, Ciba, Montrose Chemical Company, Pennwalt, and Velsicol Chemical Corporation were among the 15 companies that produced it in the United States.

DDT Pesticide

DDT causes spasms and death in insects by opening sodium ion channels in neurons, allowing them to fire spontaneously. DDT and related insecticides are immune to insects that have some mutations in their sodium channel gene. DDT tolerance is also conferred by the upregulation of genes encoding cytochrome P450 in certain insect species, as more of these enzymes speed up the metabolism of the toxin into inactive metabolites(In mammals, the same enzyme family is up-regulated in response to ethanol intake, for example.) DDT resistance is polygenic in the model genetic organism Drosophila melanogaster, according to genomic studies.

DDT Effects

  1. The pesticide DDT is an endocrine disruptor. Although the majority of studies say it is not specifically genotoxic, it is believed to be a human carcinogen. DDE is a mild androgen receptor antagonist, but it has no estrogenic properties. 

  2. Based on a rat oral LD50 of 113 mg/kg, DDT is listed as "moderately dangerous" by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) and "moderately hazardous" by the World Health Organization (WHO). Humans are believed to be largely unaffected by indirect exposure.

  3. Chronic DDT exposure can affect reproductive abilities and the embryo or foetus, mainly due to DDT's propensity to build up in areas of the body with high lipid content.

  4. Mothers who are indirectly exposed to DDT by staff who are specifically exposed to it are more likely to have spontaneous abortions. 

  5. DDT or DDE, according to other reports, interferes with proper thyroid function during pregnancy and childhood. 

  6. During pregnancy, mothers with elevated levels of DDT in their blood were found to be more likely to give birth to children who would develop autism.

  7. Organochlorine pesticides, like DDT, can increase the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, according to studies on liver cancer.

Did You Know?

Malaria elimination was often a side effect of the implementation of window screens and improved sanitation in parts of the world where living standards were increasing. The best practice is to use a number of interventions, which are typically performed at the same time. Antimalarial medications to prevent or manage infection; changes in public health systems to detect, sequester, and treat infected individuals; bednets and other mosquito-repellent devices; and vector management measures such as insecticide-treated larvae, ecological controls such as draining mosquito breeding grounds or introducing fish to eat larvae. Since many mosquito species rest on an indoor wall before or after feeding, it's especially effective against them. DDT is one of 12 IRS insecticides approved by the World Health Organization.

FAQs on What is DDT?

Q1. What are the Environmental Consequences of DDT? 

Ans. The devastating effects of DDT on the marine ecosystem have been extensively researched. It has a higher rate of bioaccumulation in water due to its low solubility, and thus poses a major long-term hazard to aquatic wildlife.

Q2.  Why was DDT banned?

Ans. DDT was prohibited by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1972 due to its harmful environmental impacts, such as those on wildlife, as well as potential human health threats. Studies have continued since then, and a correlation between DDT exposure and reproductive effects in humans is suspected based on animal studies.

Q3. How does DDT Enter the Human Body?

Ans. The most popular way to get DDT is to consume tainted food that contains small quantities of it. DDT is difficult to absorb through the skin or lungs. DDT appears to be contained in fatty tissues and excreted from the body over time as it reaches the body.