In the midst of summer heat and humidity, insect repellent is a must in some areas of the world if we don’t want to become bug food immediately upon going outdoors. We spray it on while holding our breath and closing our eyes, wait for it to settle, take a big gasp of air sucking in the remnants of that awful repellant stench in the air, and then pray we make it through our time outdoors with only a couple of bug bites to speak of.
But do you know what is in your bug spray and how it could be affecting your health?
DEET is the most widely used insect repellant in the world. It works like a charm, fending off pesky stinging insects but could actually be causing internal damage. Developed for the United States Army during WWII, it was originally tested as a pesticide on farm land. Although it works at warding off mosquitos, it has significant drawbacks. Beside its unpleasant odor (and not being very effective against flies), DEET can corrode plastics and auto paint and damages leather and fabrics. Hmmmmm. Wonder what it’s doing to your skin?
DEET is a neurotoxin which means it destroys nerve and brain cells. It can cause headaches, memory loss, dizziness, disorientation, agitation, hallucinations, tremors, seizures, shortness of breath, congestive heart failure and even DEATH!
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) requires a warning on products containing DEET:
- Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin;
- Do not apply to hands or near eyes and mouth of young children;
- Do not allow young children to apply this product;
- Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing;
- Do not use under clothing;
- After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water;
- Wash reated clothing before wearing it again;
- And, use of this product may cause skin reactions in rare cases.”
Does that sound like a safe product?
Funny though, although the EPA requires this warning label, they still claim that DEET is safe in normal use. Then why the long disclaimer on all products containing this substance? They place it in a category III of toxicity which claims it is “slightly toxic.” I don’t know about you… but I’d prefer not to use anything at ANY level of toxicity. In addition, research has shown that DEET has been found to inhibit the activity of a central nervous system enzyme, acetylcholinesterase, in both insects and mammals.
The EPA even states that DEET has been implicated in seizures among children and associated with possible adverse risks. They even associated it with 4 DEATHS!!!
WHAT?!?!? And we are still using it as a main ingredient in bug repellent? Why is the EPA still OK with this product? Chemicals like this SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED!
There are nearly 200 bug repellents that contain DEET.
Although there is slim chance the EPA will get their act together and ban this substance any time soon, we can impact what is on the shelves with our purchasing power. If more people refuse to purchase unsafe products, like DEET containing bug repellents, then safer alternatives will start showing up.
When purchasing your bug repellent, look at the ingredients and make sure it DOES NOT CONTAIN DEET! This harmful substance is used by millions and starting to build up in our environment as well as our bodies. Make informed decisions and purchase DEET FREE, all-natural bug repellents.