Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and the Environment, The Global Impact.

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Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and the Environment: The Global Impact

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was first synthesized in 1873, but it was not until 1939 that a Swiss chemist, Paul Hermann Muller, discovered that it could be sprayed on walls and would cause any insect to die within the next six monther, without any apparent toxicity to humans. He was later awarded the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his efforts. DDT's effectiveness, persistence, and low cost resulted in its use in anti-malarial efforts worldwide. It was introduced into widespread use during World War II and became the single most important pesticide responsible for maintaining human health through the next two decades. However, it was argued in 1963 that DDT was poisioning both wildlife and the environment, and also endangering human health.

DDT (ClC6H4)2CH(CCl3) is a colourless, crystalline, waxy, organochlorine pesticide that has been used as an insecticide in agriculture to combat insect vectors or diseases such as malaria and typhus.

This hydrocarbon insecticide, with a melting point between 108.5 and 109 degrees Celcius, was widely used until legislative restrictions were imposed. It is created by the reaction of a trichloromethanal with a chlorobenzene. However, the contreversy of its use revolves around an important chemical property which DDT possesses. DDT is easily bioaccumulated in human and animal tissue, and can become very dangerous, even fatal. It is highly persistent in the environment, with a reported half-life of 2 to 15 years and is immoblie in soils.

DDT is only produced in two countries, China and India, because Mexico ceased its production when their malaria control program switched its approached. It was first used in January of 1944 in Naples, but use was stopped in the 1960s because it was harmful to the environment and wildlife. Today, the only legal use of DDT...