Why is DDT non-biodegradable? (3 reasons why DDT is harmful) 

The article will discuss the biodegradability of DDT and will state reasons why DDT is regarded as being non-biodegradable. 

Further, the harmful effects of DDT would also be rightly deliberated and elucidated and greener alternatives will also be given. 

Why is DDT regarded as non-biodegradable?

DDT is seen that it is a chemical that is neither natural nor organic. Therefore, it does not contain the necessary inside that is essential to act as food for microbes and therefore, in light of these points, it is concluded that DDT is non-biodegradable. 

If the reason were to be given in a one-liner answer, it can be said that DDT does not checklist the points mentioned above and therefore, results in being non-biodegradable. 

Is DDT harmful or harmless? (3 reasons why DDT is harmful) 

There are many factors that relate DDT to be very harmful to life and the environment. In this section, we will go through and deliberate these points to further our stance on the sustainability of DDT. 

The points include 

  • Persistence 
  • Effects on life
  • Effects on the environment 


It already has been stanced and also further explained that DDT is a non-biodegradable pollutant and therefore, one will not be reluctant to call DDT non-biodegradable. 

This is a problem because it means that DDT will remain in the system for many years and not just remain, but also cause a nuisance in the form of pollution and disruption of natural ecosystems. 

The fact is far off from equivocality that there is already a blatant amount of waste generation happening around and an insane amount of waste generation that is occurring, which is pushing the waste management systems to the stark brink of mismanagement and disaster. 

Therefore, the use of non-biodegradable pollutants in these dire situations not only is bad for the environment but is actually catastrophic. 

Effects on life 

Not only is DDT bad in terms of persistence, there are also various negative and detrimental impacts that are rendered on life such as animal life, plant life and also human life. 

The use of DDT commenced somewhere in the 1940s, however, it was till the 1970s that the harmful effects of DDT were discovered. What was thought to be miraculous actually turned out to be malicious. 

It was found that DDT was a persistent pollutant because it had the capacity to remain in living systems for many years. 

The harmful effects of DDT on water bodies were also well-established after the initial discoveries post the 1970s period. 

It was found that DDT bioaccumulates in life for hundreds of years. The problem was not just with the accumulation, but also with the effects of DDT on life and the environment. 

DDT was linked to loss of life, thinning of eggshells, and even breeding failure. Thus, DDT was directly linked to harmful impacts on life and infiltrations into the food chains. 

The effects of DDT were not only limited to animal life. Human life was also severely affected by the impacts of DDT. These impacts included nausea, diarrhoea, irritation of the eyes, tremors, and convulsions.

Effects on the environment 

DDT is discovered to be harmful to the environment. This is largely because DDT is figured to be a non-biodegradable pollutant which may persist for many years. 

DDT is also linked to the issues of bioaccumulation and medical complications. However, the effects of DDT are not just limited to health; but are also reciprocated to the environment.

DDT, other than being non-biodegradable, is found to affect aquatic and land ecosystems. The degradation rate of DDT in the aquatic environment is perceived to be even greater as compared to that of land, and thus posed a long-term threat to aquatic wildlife. 

DDT may be toxic for animals like stoneflies and crayfish while also infiltrating food chains and food webs at various levels. Some other factors include

  • Highly persistent pollutant
  • Eggshell thinning
  • Loss of life
  • Bioaccumulation in various ecosystems
  • Breeding failure
  • Infiltration into the food chains and food web
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Cancer
  • Reproductive problems
  • Tumours
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Neuro Complications
  • Vertigo 
  • Dizziness
  • Neurological anomalies

Is it allowed to use DDT?

No, it is not allowed to use DDT because DDT is banned in many areas of the world because of the negative effects it has on life, the environment, and humans too. 

Therefore, it is not allowed to use DDT and the user would actually be penalised by the competent authorities. 

It also means that it is our duty to make sure that there is no illegal sale or purchase of DDT so that both the environment and life are safeguarded from the horrible and deadly effects of DDT. 

What are the green alternatives?

Since it has been established that there are negative and detrimental impacts of DDT on life and the environment, coupled with the fact that DDT has been banned also by the Stockholm Convention, it is rather imperative to go through and rummage around the greener alternatives of DDT that deliver the same utility minus the environmental costs. 

When it comes to that, there are many options that can be explored and pursued. The alternatives are plant-based pesticides that will not have any negative and degradative side effects. 

Furthermore, there are options such as neem-based and bacteria-based biopesticides. These pesticides will not only degrade but will also not offer any negative side effects as has been in the case of DDT. 


It is concluded that the case of DDT was explored and it was analysed why DDT is non-biodegradable because it does not contain the necessary inside that is essential to act as a food for microbes therefore, in light of these points, it is concluded that DDT is non-biodegradable. 

The detrimental effects of DDT were also elaborated including effects on life and effects on the environment. Also, green alternatives to DDT were also explained in the last sections of the article. 


  • Turusov, V., Rakitsky, V., & Tomatis, L. (2002). Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT): ubiquity, persistence, and risks. Environmental health perspectives, 110(2), 125-128.
  • Van den Berg, H. (2009). Global status of DDT and its alternatives for use in vector control to prevent disease. Environmental health perspectives, 117(11), 1656-1663.
  • Beard, J., & Australian Rural Health Research Collaboration. (2006). DDT and human health. Science of the total environment, 355(1-3), 78-89.
  • Cohn, B. A., Wolff, M. S., Cirillo, P. M., & Sholtz, R. I. (2007). DDT and breast cancer in young women: new data on the significance of age at exposure. Environmental health perspectives, 115(10), 1406-1414.
  • UNEP. Alternatives to DDT. Retrieved from: https://www.unep.org/explore-topics/chemicals-waste/what-we-do/persistent-organic-pollutants/alternatives-ddt

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