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DDT For Control of Household Pests

USDA March 1947

[see mindfully.org note below]

This pamphlet contains the latest information on the best use of DDT against household pests. For additional information right either to the UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE BUREAU OF ENTOMOLOGY AND PLANT QUARANTINE or to the UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE


Instructions given here in simplified form are meant to guide the individual homeowner or apartment dweller in the use of DDT to control household pests. The instructions may not applied to its use in large establishments or commercial operations.


DDT and other insecticides frequently fail under dirty and insanitary conditions. DDT will never be a substitute for cleanliness and sanitation and the fight against harmful household insects. Basic rules of sanitation will always be helpful in freeing your home of dangerous and troublesome insect pests. Don't forget that DDT is just one of many insecticides and that other insect-control methods may also be desirable or necessary. DDT is, however, a faithful and effective ally of the good housekeeper.



DDT is a mild poison but it is safe when used according to these instructions.

Take ordinary precautions in handling and storing DDT insecticides.

Avoid applying it on eating utensils and food.

Store it out of reach of children and where it will not be used by accident for flour, baking powder, or similar foods.

Wash your hands when you have finished applying DDT.

Never used oil preparations of DDT on animals.

Do not spray oil solutions near open fires, because the oil may catch fire.

Remove from the room or cover house plants, fish, and pets when applying DDT.

DDT was first used during the war for military needs by trained experts and under careful observation. It was used successfully to control the malaria-bearing mosquitoes, typhus-carrying lice, and other insects threatening the health of our Armed Forces. From this we know that DDT can be used safely. In the United States not a single case of DDT poisoning in humans has ever been proved when the material was used against insects.

mindfully.org note
Because of the US government's campaign to convince people of DDT's safety, millions of families were needlessly exposed to it. The only benefactor in the exercise was the pesticide industry. Because the factories were built to supply the US military, and the war had ended, the pesticide industry desperately needed new customers for DDT to keep the factories busy and profits coming in. Many unknowing mothers would look at this pamphlet and assume that DDT was the "faithful and effective ally of the good housekeeper." Besides that, they promoted the use of multiple pesticides by writing "Don't forget that DDT is just one of many insecticides." 

Today, the pesticides industry writes the regulations. It also does its own safety testing and supplies the regulatory agencies with the results if and when it feels like it. Even when they do supply safety testing data, many times the data is falsified, incomplete, and/or done improperly. 

The best advice anyone can give you is to NEVER use pesticides. 

Since the proliferation of pesticides, not one species of insect has been eliminated. And in spite of the massive yearly increases in the use of pesticides, crop losses have remained about the same or increased in some cases. They don't work so well on insects. That's why they have to be used regularly and in increasing amounts and concentrations. They kill the weak insects and leave the strong to create increasingly stronger generations. (See the definition of pesticide)

Only industry fronts such as Steven Milloy still demand that it is safe and never should have been banned. Milloy is billed as a "scholar" at the Cato Institute, which is itself billed as a "think tank." It's a gross exaggeration to use the word think to describe anything done by Milloy at his "Junk Science" website, or, for that matter, at the Cato Institute.

DDT Timeline

source: Endocrine Disruptors and Man-Made Chemicals Time Line - PBS Feb98 

A small sampling of the known effects of DDT and its metabolites (chemicals resulting from its breakdown):

DDT Advertisement

Time Magazine 30jun47

ddt is good for me - Time Magazine -  June 30, 1947

"The great expectations held for DDT have been realized. During 1946, exhaustive scientific tests have shown that, when properly used, DDT kills a host of destructive insect pests, and is a benefactor of all humanity."

MINDFULLY.ORG NOTE: We've been promises a scan of the original page. When that arrives, we'll replace this one with it. But the rest is original.

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