Is Bug Repellent Safe?
Summer time is almost here and so are the mosquitoes! If you are generally concerned about your health or the health of the kiddos in your life, you might be thinking twice before slathering insect repellent all over yourself or your kids. We are exposed to an unavoidable abundance of chemicals in our day-to-day lives. Now more than ever, it’s increasingly important to be cognizant of what chemicals we choose to apply, wear, ingest and breath.
So what do you do when faced to choose between nasty, biting mosquitoes and potentially toxic insect repellent?
Mothers and fathers ourselves, our team at Mosquitno wants to make sure that you are armed with the information you need to make the healthiest choice for your family. We therefore have compiled some data about the most common mosquito and insect repellent chemicals on the market to help you stay informed.
DEET: DEET or N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide is probably the most well known mosquito repellent chemical on the market today. DEET was developed in the 1940’s for the U.S. Army to use in jungle warfare. It is widely accepted as one of the most effective mosquito repellents available. This is especially relevant when traveling to or living in places that are infected with dangerous mosquito-borne illnesses.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of DEET is paired with potentially harmful side effects. Although deemed safe by the EPA, there are many scientists and researchers that question the long-term effects of DEET use – especially by children. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that DEET never be sprayed directly on the skin, but instead on clothing.
A 2009 study by researchers at the Institute of Development Research in France found that DEET can interfere with enzyme activity that is vitally important the nervous system functioning. Specifically they found that DEET blocked the enzyme cholinesterase that assists with transmitting messages between the brain and muscles. In addition to common side effects such as skin irritation and blurred vision, DEET has been known to cause other more severe symptoms such as slurred speech, confusion, and seizures.
Permethrin: If you purchase shirts, sleeping bags, or other items that are already treated to repel mosquitoes, they likely contain the chemical Permethrin. Permethrin is also used as an insecticide and acaricide in agriculture, forestry, household products, and other public health programs. This chemical is effective because it directly targets the central nervous systems of mosquitoes and other insects. What is less known is how this know neurotoxin affects the central nervous system and overall wellbeing of humans and other mammals. The Environmental Protection Agency has also classified permethrin as a type II or type III toxin as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” if ingested.
Metofluthrin: Metofluthrin is a common ingredient in insect repellent, as its vapors are highly effective and can repel up to 97% of mosquitoes in field tests. This chemical can be found in household products such as the Off! Clip-On or Raid. Although effective, metofluthrin is thought to potentially be even more toxic than DEET.
Also a known neurotoxin, many of the potential side effects of metofluthrin overexposure for humans and other animals are similar to those of DEET. Toxnet explains these symptoms to include “profuse watery salivation, coarsetremor, sympathetic activation, increased extensor tone, moderate reflex hyperexcitability, seizures, choreoathetosis, paresthesia (dermal exposure),pulmonary edema, hyperglycemia, and coma.”
So what do you do with all of these toxic chemicals?
If you and your family are recreationally enjoying the outdoors where mosquito-borne illnesses are not a major risk, then you can choose to use a wide variety of natural insect repellent alternatives. We created Mosquito Bands and Spotz to be a safe, effective, and easy solution for mosquito repellent.
However, depending on the situation, sometimes it can be most important to protect yourself or your family from mosquito-borne illnesses, and it is therefore recommended by the EPA and CDC to use these chemicals as the best method of protection.
Here are a few other tips from Live Science to safely use insect repellents:
- Never apply bug sprays over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
- Do not apply on hands or near the eyes and mouth, especially of young children.
- Do not allow young children to apply toxic chemicals like DEET products themselves.
- After returning indoors, wash bug spray-treated skin with soap and water.
- Heavy application is not necessary to achieve protection, so apply it sparingly.
- Do not spray in enclosed areas.
- Some bug spray products cannot be used on children under three years old, so always check the label to make sure.