Just Imagine These Old Household Products Containing DDT On Your Shelves Today

Take a trip back to the 1950s. Elvis Presley. Sock hops. Wallpaper with DDT. Wait, what? Yes, DDT made its way into the American home through such means as wallpaper and pesticide sprays. Back then, countries used DDT to fight off malaria worldwide. Farmers used it on crops to ward off insects and consumers sprayed it in the home to eliminate such nuisances as moths and beetles. Too bad exposure to the chemical results in premature births, developmental problems and cancer.

The United States eventually banned the chemical after the book, Silent Spring, questioned its relatively indiscriminate use and listed detrimental effects such as cancer and negative impacts on wildlife. On the other hand, the book came out in 1962 and the ban didn’t take place until 1972, showing the slow pace of reform. Before the ban though, companies convinced consumers to use it liberally:

Phil Allegretti, an exterminator by trade, collected the following DDT artifacts and donated them to the museum of the Chemical Heritage Foundation. They show the pesticide sprayers used back then and also ads with smiling women happily spraying CHEMICALS OF DEATH around the house. One ad even urges mothers to spray DDT in their child’s nursery for protection. Oh, how times have changed.

An ad for children’s room wallpaper containing DDT uses cartoon characters such as Donald Duck and Pluto.
Cornelius sprayer served dual functions: pesticide sprayer and suntan lotion/deodorant applier.
Tanglefoot Spray urges you to fight off cancer-spreading roaches. How ironic.
These ads suggest a greater production of food with pesticide sprays. “DDT is good for me-e-e!” sing the children.
Ladies Home Journal featured this ad urging mothers to protect defenseless children with “Fly-Tox”.
A variety of pesticide sprayers. Can you smell the DDT?
The Tanglefoot “Difusor” pesticide fogger. Gas mask not included.
Manual pesticide sprayer. Not as cool as the Tanglefoot sprayer.
DDT spraying tools. The blue vacuum attachment, the green garden hose attachment and the large fogger.
Cedar closet wallpaper lined with DDT. “Because it KILLS insects.” And humans!

So interesting that we ultimately found out the harmful effects of DDT. What products do we currently use might we find to be harmful later on? Comment below.