‘DDT chemical’ refers to ‘dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane,’ a chemical that has no color, odor, or taste. It appears crystal-like and in a solid form created by synthetic means. It is widely used as an insecticide, and it belongs to the halogen family of compounds.
The formulation of DDT was said to be first made back in 1874 through the mixing of chloral and chlorobenzene along with sulfuric acid. Back then, DDT was used for a wide variety of purposes other than being an insecticide. These uses included: the production of gasoline distillates, concentrates, smoke candles, and various vaporizers among many others. It was only in 1939 when Paul Muller, a chemist from Switzerland, discovered the insecticidal properties of DDT. With these properties, the DDT chemical was widely used by soldiers that were involved in World War II to treat those infected with diseases such as typhus and malaria. These conditions were treated specifically with DDT along with its help in warding off insects such as lice and mosquitoes among many others. With its reputation as a powerful insecticide, DDT was eventually spread to various farmers who used this particular chemical to help get rid of insect pests from their crops. By 1948, the discovery of DDT and its wide use and application led to the Nobel Prize in recognition of Dr. Muller in the field of physiology or medicine.
By 1962, it was discovered that DDT was highly toxic to humans, animals, and plants. In the case of humans, DDT was said to cause cancer in various parts of the body if exposure to this chemical was prolonged or in very large quantities. With these concerns for human health, DDT was also blamed for various health concerns for crops and animals. With all these negative findings, the use of DDT was eventually banned in the U.S. starting in 1972.