Science Snippet: DDT Still Taking Toll

Unintended consequences. Decades ago, a chemical plant in St. Louis, Mich., produced DDT. The insecticide, now banned in the U.S., remains pervasive in the city of 7,000 – at very high levels.

These levels are especially toxic to birds, causing seizures and open wounds that eventually kill them. When autopsied, the birds reveal gross organ abnormalities as well as lesions in the brain and liver. Levels of DDT and its breakdown products were among the highest ever recorded in wild bird populations, and many birds lay eggs that never hatch.

It is likely that many residents of the Michigan city will some day have to deal with medical issues stemming from the chemical plant that gave them jobs years ago. (Science News, Dec. 14, 2014)

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