What is DDT?

DDT, or dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, is a chemical compound with the formula C14H9Cl5. Under standard conditions for temperature and pressure (STP), this chemical compound exists as a colourless and tasteless crystalline solid. Some important properties and uses of DDT are listed in this article along with the hazards this compound poses to human health.

Properties of DDT

  • The chemical formula of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane is C14H9Cl5.
  • The molar mass of this chemical compound corresponds to 354.48 grams per mole.
  • Under standard conditions, the density of this compound is roughly equal to 1 gram per cubic centimetre.
  • The melting point of this chemical compound is approximately equal to 108.5 degrees Celsius (or 381.6 Kelvin).
  • The boiling point of this chemical compound is approximately equal to 260 degrees Celsius (or 533 Kelvin). However, it is important to note that DDT undergoes decomposition when it is heated to this temperature range.
  • DDT is very poorly soluble in water. For all practical purposes, this compound is insoluble in water. The solubility of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane in water corresponds to 25 micrograms per litre (at a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius).

Uses of DDT

Between the 1950s and the 1980s, DDT was widely used in the agricultural industry as an insecticide. The use of DDT to control diseases like typhus and malaria was not uncommon in the early 1940s.

DDT acts upon the sodium ion channels in the neurons of insects, making them fire in a spontaneous manner. This causes the insects to undergo spasms and eventually die. However, certain mutations in insects can make them resistant to DDT. The primary application of this compound was, therefore, as an insecticide for the control of dangerous diseases like malaria. However, due to concerns over its negative impacts on the environment and human health, the use of this compound has been banned in several countries.

Health Hazards Associated with DDT

  • DDT is known to act as an endocrine disruptor. Therefore, exposure to this compound can result in interference with the endocrine system.
  • This compound is also suspected to be a carcinogen to human beings. However, it can be noted that many studies suggest that this compound is not genotoxic.
  • It can also be noted that DDT is classified as a moderately toxic substance by the US NTP (national toxicology program). Indirect exposure to this chemical compound is believed to be non-toxic to humans.
  • DDT is also believed to interfere with the regular thyroid function in pregnant women.
  • This compound has also been linked to a higher risk of developing autism in children.

It can also be noted that DDT is classified as a persistent organic pollutant. This compound can penetrate soils and remain there for up to 30 years. To learn more about DDT and other pesticides, register with BYJU’S and download the mobile application on your smartphone.

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