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DDT Full Form

Shuchi BagchiUpdated On: August 28, 2023 11:05 am IST

The organochlorine compound DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was initially introduced in 1874. It was proven to be a highly effective insecticide in 1935, which led to an increase in widespread usage particularly in the sector of agriculture as a general pesticide. As the Indian Economy is based on agrarian production, usage of DDT will prove to be beneficial in crop production. However, DDT was earlier used to combat malaria and various other insect-borne diseases. In this article, we will look at the meaning of DDT, its operation, why it should not be used, how to prevent its hazardous consequences and a lot more. Let us start by understanding DDT in basic.

What is DDT Full Form?

The DDT full form is DichloroDiphenylTrichloroethane and it is an odorless and colorless organochlorine material. It is used as an insecticide in agriculture for increasing crop production. This makes it highly poisonous for all living beings due to its synthetic nature. It aims at the bodily tissues and stays there for very long causing damage to a higher extent.

 The primary usage of this DDT is to kill pests and insects in agricultural areas and protect the crop. It is done to protect the crops from being spoiled by these pests under the module of crop protection.

 Origin of DDT

The abbreviation DDT stands for DichloroDiphenylTrichloroethane, the usage of which can be traced back to the year 1874 when it was used towards the termination of World War II. Then its primary usage was to control typhus and malaria to protect the commoners and the military troops especially in war zones. The harmful effects of DDT on ecosystems led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to put a ban on its usage in the United States. DDT was used commonly as a spray for destroying insecticides in the U.S in 1959.

 Molecular Formula and Structure of DDT

  • The molecular formula of DDT is written as (C14H9Cl). It is very hydrophobic in nature, insoluble in water and also soluble in various organic solvents such as fats and oils.
  • Chemical composition of DDT- Chloral (CCl3CHO) reacts with chlorobenzene (C6H5Cl) in the presence of a sulphuric acid which acts as a catalyst to form sulphuric acid naturally (H2SO4).
  • The insects that exist on the crops are exposed to DDT if the plants are sprinkled with it. It causes damage to the bug's nerves, which eventually leads to death and maintains the natural growth of the crop.

Significance and Uses of DDT

The sole reason why DichloroDiphenylTrichloroethane should be allowed to be used to a larger extent is to bring the pests and insects under control. Since it is merely impossible for farmers on large irrigation and agricultural lands to keep an eye on and destroy all the pests, therefore they have to take resort to the usage of DDT for a faster result which acts as a strong insecticide.

Negative Impact of DDT

Through various scientific research and surveys, it is no longer a hidden fact that the negative effects of DDT are more than the good ones. Here are some of the important reasons why we must stop using it or use it in very less amount:

  • The chemical compounds constituting the DDT will bring harmful effects to the environment and mankind.
  • DDT kills the pests and insects and they die on the same soil where agricultural cultivation is carried. This is how DDT enters into the growing crops and plants.
  • DichloroDiphenylTrichloroethane (DDT) is sprayed on the upper layers of plants to prevent insects or pests from eating and destroying the crops. The harmful chemical layer remains on the edible plants and plant-based products that we humans consume, making a way for DDT to enter our bodies and making us prone to disease.
  • Besides harming human beings, the chemical present in DDT also affects the animals by entering their bodies the same way it enters the human bodies and increasing the number of ‘pathogens’ (a disease causing germs)  in them.
  • In the animal body, it results in thinning of eggshells and the destruction of the embryo which leads to the distorted reproduction.

Side-effects of DDT on Humans and Animals

DDT is highly toxic in nature and it may be hazardous if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin pores. It is advisable to avoid any skin contact with DDT as it is a harmful pesticide. DDT is very poisonous to aquatic life, with-long lasting effects which causes huge damage. The presence of DDT can have carcinogenic effects (potential to cause cancer) on both humans and animals. Effect of DDT on human being and animals are given below:

1) Effects of DDT on human being

If we research about the adverse effect of DDT on human beings, it would be a very harmful substance for them. It leads to a lot of diseases and serious health effects in humans such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Liver cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Uncontrolled cell mutation which later leads to tumor and cancer tissue growth.
  • Respiratory diseases and convulsions

2) Effects of DDT on Wildlife

DDT is a very toxic and hazardous chemical for a wide variety of wildlife i.e. birds, mammals, fishes etc. The side-effects of exposure to DDT is responsible thinning of eggshells and lower reproductive rate in certain bird species by causing egg breakage and embryo death in very early stages. DDT is also known to cause carcinogenic effects on animals as well. 

How to Avoid Harmful Effects of DDT?

DDT has been used for experimental purposes for a short period of time in various fields. In addition to insects, the effects on humans, plants, and soil require more research before we get answers to many of the questions that are still unanswered. If someone wants to use DDT, that person should initially determine the pests he wants to control. Then he should understand whether DDT can be used effectively to control pests or not. If other insecticides can be more effective, safe and cheaper, then other insecticides should be preferred over DDT. The most important thing is to know that DDT is toxic to humans and animals and individuals should control their actions accordingly to maintain the ecological balance.

Few of the precautionary measure to be adopted while using DDT are:

  • Prefer to wear adequate protective gear when using DDT. To prevent against its toxic effects in areas where there may be detectable amounts of DDT (e.g. formulation and application activities) workers should wear protective clothing (like neoprene gloves and an apron) and a self-contained or supplied-air respirator with a fully covered facepiece to mitigate the harmful effect.
  • DDT should not be allowed to get involved into the food that is meant for human or domestic animal consumption. DDT is safest to use for both animals and plants when used as dust diluted with talc or as a water spray in which the DDT is suspended to tiny particles.


What is the full form of DDT?

The DDT full form is DichloroDiphenylTrichloroethane.

What side effects can DDT have on Dogs?

The effect of DDT on dogs can cause nausea, irritation on eyes/throat. Higher doses can lead to more damages in the internal organs.

Why was DDT banned?

DDT increases the serious and critical health conditions in both humans and animals. The usage of DDT can also kill the insects useful for maintaining the balance in the ecosystem.

When was DDT banned?

Due to the deleterious effect on humans, plants and animals, the usage of DDT was banned in 1972 in the United States.

Is DDT still prevalent?

DDT was banned in many countries. But DDT is still in use in many countries for the sake of preventing malaria which is a major challenge especially in the developing countries.