DDT Environmental Effects

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Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, was first published in 1962. Silent Spring provided a lyrical account of the impact of overusing pesticides on the environment and human health. The book, along with the reaction to other environmental disasters, such as Love Canal, helped to bring about the environmental revolution. This environmental revolution led to the banning of DDT and similar chemicals to DDT in the US as well as numerous other acts to promote a better environment. It is known that DDT had negative effects on the environment, but the effects of DDT on human health some claim are often misinformation. DDT, originally made as a pesticide, can present a danger to humans in large doses, however, its only real danger is to animals.
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Because of the restrictions on human experimentation, most research on the effects of DDT must be tested on animals. Exposure to DDT in different doses to various animals have adverse effects. In a scientific review and done by Walter Rogan in 2005, numerous health effects on laboratory animals were noted. These effects included hepatic cell hypertrophy (swelling of cells and thus the liver) and necrosis, liver tumors, and other carcinogenic effects. In a study done on dolphins, DDT was associated with lower immune functionality (Lahvis, Wells , Kuehl, Stewart, Rhinehart, Via, 1995). The LD50, or lethal dose 50, the amount of a substance that kills 50% of the test group, varies amongst animals. For oral ingestion in mice it ranges from 113-800 mg/kg, in dogs it ranged from 500-750 mg/kg. To help put this in perspective, the LD50 of caffeine for humans in 110 mg/kg. However, the LD50 is significantly lower for dermal intake; 1000 mg/kg in Guinea pigs, and 2500-3000 mg/kg in female rats. Although many studies have shown negative effects of DDT on animals, the challenge is to apply these effects to humans or to see if they can be …show more content…
DDT serves as an endocrine disruptor and thus much of its effects on the human body are interactions with the endocrine system. There is numerous back and forth evidence on DDT’s impact on the human body. In a study done by the CDC where adults were given small capsules of DDT regularly for 18 months, there were no noticeable harmful effects. However, a different study showed that DDT is a xenoestrogen, and can interfere with proper mammillary functions, leading to DDT in breast milk and potentially breast cancer (Turusov, Rakitsky, Tomatis, 2002). DDT has also been associated with some reproductive problems due to its androgen receptor antagonistic properties (a steroid hormone blocker). In males with mothers who were exposed to DDT, the males suffered from reproductive defects. In females exposed to DDT, there was an increased number of cases of endometriosis and precocious puberty (Turusov, Rakitsky, Tomatis, 2002). DDT is believed to have other reproductive effects on humans. One of the important studies showing this was done by JA Nelson in 1974 and reviewed by a group of Russian scientists (Turusov, Rakitsky, Tomatis, 2002); this study showed that DDT can inhibit the binding of [3H]-estradiol (a steroid, estrogenic sex hormone) to the cytosolic (part of the cytoplasm) estrogen receptor in utero. Even though the complete effects on humans remains somewhat unknown, it is still used even

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