What is DDT?

DDT is a cheap, persistent man-made organochlorine pesticide that is used in Third World countries for the control of malarial mosquitoes. DDT is soluble in organic solvents and fat, and relatively insoluble in water. It breaks down into several related compounds, such as DDD and DDE that are as toxic as DDT. Although DDT and DDD can not be legally used as a pesticide in the US, except for a public health emergency, DDT is still manufactured in this country and distributed widely throughout the world. Several hazardous waste sites, including Superfund sites, contain DDT and can act as sources of exposure. DDT’s presence in the US is generally a result of contamination due to past and present production and past use. DDT, DDD, and DDE are found throughout the world; even areas far from their use; bound soil particles are transported by the wind and water; and, in the bodies of migrating species of animals. The half-life (the time it takes to break down half its concentration) is some 40 years.

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