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Case Study 2

History of DDT in Poland: Production, Usage, Banning and Managing Obsolete Stockpiles

This case study will present history of DDT in Poland, since the beginning of production and usage after World War II, phasing out in 1975 and up until liquidation processes of obsolete pesticide stockpiles at the beginning of 21st century. In the 1990s Poland has faced socio-economical changes which had great impact, among others, on the ownership of waste and hazardous waste stockpiles and their management. This case study will demonstrate how Poland managed to secure and regain control over the “orphan” obsolete pesticide including DDT stockpiles and how environmental laws changed over time and during EU accession. Basic monitoring management will also be presented, as an integral part of waste management process.

According to data analyses in Poland, among the substances characterized by the Stockholm Convention as the dirty dozen, the following were used and produced as a pesticide: DDT, dieldrin, hexachlorobenzene and toxaphene. Also aldrin, endrin and heptachlor were used as pure substances and as preparations in agriculture. Among these substances only DDT and toxaphene were produced in Poland, the rest were imported. Currently in Poland, none of the substances mentioned in Annexes A and B of the Stockholm Convention are produced, used, imported or exported. For the last 25 years in relation to the production of “plant protection preparations” only substances which do not contain persistent organic pollutants have been produced.

DDT or Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane, the first of the chlorinated organic insecticides, was originally synthesized in 1873, but it was not until 1939 that Paul Muller discovered the effectiveness of DDT as an insecticide. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology in 1948 for this discovery. It was initially used during World War II with great effect to combat mosquitoes spreading malaria, typhus, and other insect-borne human diseases among both military and civilian populations.