In 1939 DDT was tested successfully against the Colorado potato beetle by the Swiss government and by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1943. In January 1944 DDT was used to quash an outbreak of typhus carried by lice in Naples, the first time a winter typhus epidemic had been stopped.
Although Muller had required his ideal insecticide to be relatively
nontoxic to warm-blooded animals, the widespread use and persistence
of DDT (in 1968 it was estimated that 1,000,000,000 pounds [453,000,000
kg] of the substance remained in the environment) made it a hazard to
animal life, and it showed signs of disrupting ecological food chains.
By 1970 DDT was rapidly being supplanted by more quickly degraded, less
toxic agents; its use was banned in a number of countries.
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