Paper on Why I think the Use of DDT Should Be Banned Worldwide

Paper on Why I think the Use of DDT Should Be Banned Worldwide

The widespread use of Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) should be banned worldwide because of the chemicals irreversible and damaging effects on the environment.

DDT was a chemical that was first discovered in the late 1800’s. It wasn’t until 1939 that its ability to kill mosquitoes and lice was discovered and the chemical was then used to control the spread of malaria and typhus during World War II. After the war DDT was authorized for use as an agricultural pesticide because of its effectiveness as an insect killer, and is to this day, at least by name one of the most popular insecticides ever used. Unfortunately, the negative effects of this powerful insecticide soon became known and the use of DDT as an insecticide was banned in the United States in 1972. Eventually, in 2001, (, ND) DDT was banned for agricultural use worldwide by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Pollutants.

To understand why DDT should be banned, we need to understand the effects that this chemical has on the environment. First, DDT is not only poisonous to insects, but also to some marine life, small animals and birds. According to the Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices at Cornell University (PMEP, ND) “DDT has caused chronic effects on the nervous system, liver, kidneys, and immune systems in experimental animals” which included tremors and (PMED, ND) “changes in cellular chemistry in the central nervous system of monkeys”. DDT has been linked to several types of cancers in humans as well, including pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, testicular cancer and leukemia. DDT has also been proven to cause neurological conditions in humans such as (Fackelmann, 2006) Parkinson’s disease.

After discussing the effects of DDT, let’s now discuss the characteristics of the chemical. First, DDT is not water soluble, and therefore it is not washed away by rainfall; however it is soluble in fat and will in effect build up and become stored in an animal’s body fat. Secondly, DDT is a persistent chemical, meaning that it doesn’t break down and remains in a treated area for many years. On the same note, when a plant that has been treated with DDT is eaten by an animal such as a rabbit, that rabbit now has DDT inside it. When that rabbit is eaten by humans, that human now has DDT chemicals in their system. DDT lives through the food chain and causes negative effects to each link.

One might believe that the banning of DDT should be a local decision, that each country should decide for itself whether or not to implement a ban and in most cases this should be true. However, unlike most chemicals that will break down, DDT is persistent and its effects could easily make its way naturally to any other country, just through the environment itself. It is virtually impossible to completely isolate every animal, fish, bird and human from a particular country. Allowing just one country to use DDT on a widespread scale could still potentially affect anyone else in the world.

Fackelmann, K. (2006, September 17). Lingering pesticides linked to Parkinson's. USA Today. Retrieved from