(CN) – The harmful effects of DDT are still being felt decades after the pesticide was banned in several countries, according to a new study.
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, known as DDT, was once one of the most common pesticides used throughout North America, and it was designed specifically to help fight spruce budworm infestations in forests.
Several nations banned the pesticide in the late 20th century due to its harmful effects on the environment and human health, but a study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology has found that the consequences of the once-frequent use of DDT persist.
The study examined sediment samples from five major lakes in New Brunswick, Canada, an area that is estimated to have been sprayed with nearly 5.7 million kilos of DDT between 1952 and 1968. Researchers discovered alarming levels of DDT within these samples and determined that the dangers of DDT were still observable in these environments.
Researchers determined that these remaining levels of DDT have harmed local lake ecosystems and food webs.
The study found that small but vital populations of invertebrates, such as water fleas and zooplankton, have experienced steep declines in populations due to the presence of DDT. The study also found that other species and animals have been affected by the declining health of these lake ecosystems.
Joshua Kurek, lead author of the study and Assistant Professor in Geography and Environment at Mount Allison University, hopes that this research will shed light on the effects of pesticide use and human interaction with the environment.
“Still to this day we observe DDT’s long-term impacts to aquatic life and its negative effects on our freshwaters,” Kurek said. “I am hopeful that our findings remind us of the terrible ecological choices industry and humankind often make.”
“We need to stop our shortsightedness and consider a sustainable future when it comes to the use of pesticides, like DDTs, and other types of pollution that know few boundaries,” he added.