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Temperate WoodLands and Shrublands

The Problem "DDT"

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The Problem "DDT"
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Description Of DDT and the Problems it Causes

DDT is a pesticide that has greatly influenced the world.  DDT stands for Dichloro-dipheny-trichloroethane and was developed in 1939 by the Swiss scientist Paul Hermann Muller.  It was first recognized in World War II where it was used to kill malaria–causing insects that were biting U.S. troops in the South Pacific Islands.  In 1945, DDT became available to civilians and was soon known was the “wonder pesticide.”  When applied to crops, the pesticide could kill a variety of insects for many months.  No one thought to question the pesticide and what affects it had on the environment but, in 1958, renowned nature author and former marine biologist, Rachel Carson, received a letter from a friend in Massachusetts about a large bird killed as a result of DDT spraying.  Carson decided to research the matter and with her findings she wrote the book, Silent Spring.  The book revealed that the pesticide was being absorbed into the soil of the crops and was then entering the food chain.  From there, DDT was infecting many plants and animal species.  A more noticeable specie was the bald eagle.  DDT was causing the bird’s eggshells to have thinner layers, which led to egg breakage.  The bald eagle almost became extinct because of the low reproduction rates.  The book caught the attention of the people and in 1963, President John F. Kennedy ordered the President’s Science Advisory Committee to examine the matter.  As a result, DDT came under government supervision and was eventually banned in 1972 by the EPA. 

Despite the banning of DDT in the Untied States, the pesticide was manufactured and exported from the U.S. and used in Third World countries.  The pesticide is still used to today and has a usage rate roughly equal to that prior to the banning.  More research about DDT occurred and it revealed that it has some affects on humans as well.  For instance, DDT can cause liver cancer, temporary nervous system damage, and low reproductive success.  If DDT is not taken care of soon it could lead to another possible specie extinction or more serious side affects to humans.  A possible resolution would be to use a less harmful pesticide or use a smaller amount of DDT.  So, in conclusion,  DDT has influenced the world for better and worse but will only become more harmful the longer we use it.     

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Plane Crop Dusting with DDT

Page By: Tyler Burks

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