Is DDT use a public health problem in Mexico?

Environ Health Perspect. 1996 Jun;104(6):584-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.104-1469381.


We review the potential impact of DDT on public health in Mexico. DDT production and consumption patterns in Mexico during the last 20 years are described and compared with those in the United States. In spite of the restrictions on DDT use in antimalaria campaigns in Mexico, use of DDT is still higher than in other Latin American countries. We analyzed information from published studies to determine accumulated levels of this insecticide in blood, adipose tissue, and breast milk samples from Mexican women. Current lipid-adjusted DDE levels from women living in Mexico City are 6.66 ppb in mammary adipose tissue and 0.594 ppm in total breast milk. Finally, the methodological limitations of existing epidemiological studies on DDT exposure and breast cancer are discussed. We conclude that DDT use in Mexico is a public health problem, and suggest two solutions: identification of alternatives for the control of malaria and educational intervention to reduce DDT exposure. We also recommend strengthening epidemiological studies to evaluate the association between accumulated DDT levels in adipose tissue and breast cancer incidence among Mexican women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Carcinogens / adverse effects*
  • Carcinogens / analysis
  • Carcinogens / economics*
  • DDT / adverse effects*
  • DDT / analysis
  • DDT / economics*
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / adverse effects*
  • Insecticides / analysis
  • Insecticides / economics*
  • Malaria / prevention & control
  • Mexico
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Public Health*


  • Carcinogens
  • Insecticides
  • DDT