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Definition of DDT:
dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), a persistant organochlorine pesticide [1]
This is the common definition for DDT, other definitions can be discussed in the article


DDT, like other organochlorine pesticides enter the marine environment mainly through inputs from water and air as a result of their use in agriculture. Although the use of DDT has been forbidden since the 1970's, they are still detected in the marine environment due to it's extreme stability, to illegal use or to use elsewhere (third world countries). DDT is metabolized into dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) which is equally toxic. Therefore, to asses the risk of DDT exposure, the sum both contaminants needs to be taken into account. This means that if you encounter a high percentage of DDT, the contamination must be a recent one.[2]. It's still possible to find recent contaminations of DDT, especially by use in third world countries, where use still isn't everywhere prohibited.[3] DDT affects the central nervous system of insects and other animals. This results in hyperactivity, paralysis and death. DDT also affects eggshell production in birds and the endocrine system of animals. [4] DDT has a very high tenancy towards biomagnification. When in a simple ecosystem the background concentration is equal to 1, then zooplancton can accumulate concentrations of 13.000, small fish species concentrations of 170.000, large fishes up to 670.000. Finally birds will accumulate concentrations of 8.300.000. [3]


  1. Lawrence E (ed.), 2000. Henderson’s Dictionary of Biological Terms. 12th edition. Prentice Hall, Pearson Education Limited. Harlow, Great Britain.
  2. OSPAR Commission 2000. Quality Status Report 2000, OSPAR Commission, London
  3. 3,0 3,1 Janssen, C. (2008). Wat is giftig en wat niet, de zee onder de loep. Het Laboratorium voor Milieutoxicologie en Aquatische Ecologie, in: Goffin, A. et al. (Ed.) (2008). UGent aan Zee. pp. 54-61
  4. ↑ Kennish, M. J. (1996): Practical Handbook of Estuarine and Marine Pollution, CRC Press 524 pp