Laboratory tests can detect DDT, DDE, and DDD in fat, blood, urine, semen, and breast milk. These tests may show low, moderate, or excessive exposure to these compounds, but cannot tell the exact amount you were exposed to, or whether there will be an adverse effects. These tests are not routinely available at the doctor's office because they require special equipment
DDT, DDE, and DDD residues have been measured in biological samples such as adipose tissue, skin lipids, blood serum, urine, milk, and other samples primarily by gas chromatographic (GC) methods. GC methodology provides high resolution and a reproducibility of retention time, which is ideal for distinguishing between the p,p and o,pisomers of the compounds, especially when using GC capillary columns. The GC separation method has been historically coupled with electron capture detection (ECD) quantitative techniques. For example, the GC/ECD methodology proposed by Cranmer et al. has detected DDT, DDE, and DDD in human urine at levels as low as 50 pg/sample. In human serum, detection limits of between 2 and 7 pg/g serum for DDT, DDE, and DDD have been reported for the GC/ECD quantitative method. With the wider availability of gas chromatographymass spectrometry (GC/MS) instrumentation in analytical laboratories, GC/MS detection methods have been used to quantify DDT and its metabolites. Both the GC/ECD and GC/MS analytical methods are suitable for the analysis of DDT, DDE, and DDD.
To detect DDT, DDE, and DDD in surface water and municipal and industrial discharges the EPA methods 608 and 8081B are recommended (links will be added). EPA methods 8081B and 8270D are GC/MS methods used to determine DDT and its metabolites in soils with detection limits of 0,30,4 μg/kg. GC/ECD and nitrogenphosphorus detection (NPD) is used for the analysis of DDT in foods with a detection limit of 0,5 μg/kg. GC/ECD is also used for the analysis of DDT and its metabolites in fish, oysters, and waterfowl and detection limits were reported in the ppb range.
Alternative approaches are being developed to improve sample recoveries, speed analysis time, or lower detection sensitivities in the analysis of DDT, DDE, and DDD.