DDT and metabolites


Toxic and persistent organochloropesticide

DDT is an effective contact and stomach insecticide which has been used widely in agriculture and forestry. The commercial product is a mixture of the isomers p,p’-DDT (ca. 77%), o,p’-DDT (ca. 15%) and the metabolites DDE (Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethene) und DDD (Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane).
Between 1946 and 1972 it was the most widely used insecticide. It was of special importance in the fight against the tropical disease Malaria which is transmitted by the Anopheles-midge.

DDT is very persistent in the environment. It adheres to soil particles and can enter surface waters during run-off. In the atmosphere it can travel over large distances adsorbed to dust particles.

DDT accumulates in the fatty tissues of organisms and is biomagnified in the food web.

DDT is toxic to humans and animals and acts as endocrine disruptor. Moreover, there is evidence for mutagenicity and carcinogenicity.

Since the Stockholm Convention entered into force in 2004, the use of DDT is restricted to vector control.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, DDT was banned in 1972. In the German Democratic Republic (GDR) the compound was successively banned between 1971 and 1988. It was, however, more important in GDR agriculture and forestry and was still applied extensively in 1983 and 1984 to control the bark-beetle.


p,p'-DDE DDE is the main metabolite of DDT. It is even more persistent than the parent compound and is strongly accumulated by organisms. It is suspected to be carcinogenic, mutagenic and to act as endocrine disruptor.
p,p'-DDD DDD is a metabolite of DDT with insecticidal properties. It is suspected to be carcinogenic and to act as endocrine disruptor.


Zebra mussel Common mussel species as invasive animal in rivers and lakes with high information level for water pollution
Bream Bioindicator in rivers and lakes
Suspended particulate matter Fine insoluble mineral or organic particles in the water phase
Blue mussel One of the most important edible mussel species common in the North and Baltic Sea
Eelpout As the only viviparous fish in German nearshore waters, it is a bioindicator in nearshore coastal marine ecosystems.
Herring gull Inshore, the herring gull mainly feeds from the sea: upon fish, mussels, and crabs.
Roe deer, one-year-old The roe deer is the most common of the larger herbivores (first order-consumer) to be found in the wild in Europe.
Feral pigeon A pigeon species home in nearly every city.
Earthworm (Aporrectodea longa) As an organism living at ground level, it is a major driver of the decomposition of organic material (e.g. plant litter).
Earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris) As an organism living at ground level, it is a major driver of the decomposition of organic material (e.g. plant litter).
Soil Soil is livelihood and biosphere for humans, animals, plants and soil organisms. All the substances brought in are transported, transformed and/or accumulated in the soil.

Sampling area

BR/NP Berchtesgaden The only high mountains national park in Germany and an area of the Limestone Alps with international relevance
Saarländischer Verdichtungsraum Important, old-industrialised conurbation in Germany.
Bornhöveder Seengebiet Main water divide between the North- and Baltic Sea
Rhein Longest river in Germany
NP Bayerischer Wald Germany's first national park
NP Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park in the largest brackish water (Bodden) habitat of the world.
BR/NP Wattenmeere National park in the world largest connected sand and mud flats.
Elbe Fourth largest river basin in Central Europe
Verdichtungsraum Halle-Leipzig Region in the chemical triangle of Central Germany
NP Harz Germany's largest forest national park
Solling Second highest and largest low mountain range in Northern Germany
BR Pfälzerwald Germany's largest connected forest area in a range of low mountains
Oberbayerisches Tertiärhügelland The Upper Bavarian Tertiary Uplands are a part of the Southern German Molasse Basin
Donau Second largest river in Europe

Sampling period

1985 - 2019