Dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) is a nonsystemic contact insecticide. The compound has been employed against a variety of pests. Although DDT can be used to combat insect-transmitted disease, it's most common application is in agriculture. The chemical was widely utilized across the globe from World War II up until 1972. In that year, concern over the potential threat of environmental damage eventually caused the United States to restrict its use.
An organochlorine, DDT's chemical formula is C14H9Cl5. The compound can be variously described. In addition to dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane, it is also known as the following: (1) p,p'-DDT; (2) 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane; and (3) 4,4'DDT. There are actually three different forms of DDT. These include p,p'-DDT, o,p'-DDT, and o,o'-DDT. Technical DDT consists of all three mixed together. In addition, it may contain small amounts of DDT breakdown products. These metabolite contaminants include dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene--also known as 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene (DDE)--and dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethane, or 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane (DDD). In addition, DDT has been produced under several trade names. Some of these include the following: Genitox, Detoxan, Pentachlorin, and Chlorophenothane (Clement Associates, 1989, pp. 68-71).
At room temperature, DDT occurs as an odorless or weakly aromatic solid. It can take the form of either white powder or colorless crystals. The (p,p') form has a melting point of 108-109?C; whereas the (o,p') form's melting point is somewhat lower (i.e., 74-75?C). DDT's boiling point is 260?C. Although the chemical is insoluble in water, it is very soluble in organic solvents (Clement Associates, 1989, pp. 68-71).
Dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane was first synthesized in 1874. It wasn't until the 1940s though that the compound was recognized for its disease-preventing ...