Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
What is DDT?
Prior to 1972 when its use was banned, DDT was a commonly used pesticide. Although it is no longer used or produced in the United States, we continue to find DDT in our environment. Other parts of the world continue to use DDT in agricultural practices and in disease-control programs. Therefore, atmospheric deposition is the current source of new DDT contamination in our Great Lakes. DDT, and its break-down products DDE and DDD, are persistent, bioacculumative, and toxic (PBT) pollutants target by EPA.
Why Are We Concerned About DDT?
Even though DDT has been banned since 1972, it can take more than 15 years to break down in our environment. Fish consumption advisories are in effect for DDT in many waterways including the Great Lakes ecosystem.
What harmful effects can DDT have on us?
- Probable human carcinogen
- Damages the liver
- Temporarily damages the nervous system
- Reduces reproductive success
- Can cause liver cancer
- Damages reproductive system
How are we exposed to DDT?
- By eating contaminated fish and shellfish
- Infants may be exposed through breast milk
- By eating imported food directly exposed to DDT
- By eating crops grown in contaminated soil
Where can DDT be found?
Potential Sources to our Environment:
- DDT in soil can be absorbed by some growing plants and by the animals or people who eat those plants
- DDT in water is absorbed by fish and shellfish in those waterways
- Atmospheric deposition
- Soil and sediment runoff
- Improper use and disposal