The insecticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was formally banned in the U.S. for use in 1974, but it is still in use today.

Consuming fish may result in greater exposure to persistent pollutants like DDT than a plant-based diet as these compounds bioaccumulate up the food chain. Factory-raised fish generally have higher levels of DDT and other pesticides than wild-caught fish. Dairy and canned bamboo shoots from China are other food sources of DDT.

The DDT half-life in the human body is as long as ten years, and DDT residues were found in 95% of mothers’ umbilical cord blood samples decades after its agricultural use was banned. The greater a woman’s exposure to the DDT metabolite, DDE, the higher the weight gain risk for their daughters. Estrogen-mimicking environmental metabolites of DDT may explain how exposure may lead to genital birth defects.

Topic summary contributed by Randy.

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