Would you knowingly spray a chemical on yourself or your children that has been linked to motor deficits and learning and memory dysfunction? A chemical that has been found by the National Institutes for Health to cross the placenta, that sacred barrier that protects unborn children from harmful substances? Of course not.
But, for years, consumers have accepted the potential neurotoxic health effects of DEET in insect repellents in exchange for the assurance that the chemical works well and lasts long. Fortunately, consumer demand for safer products, coupled with scientific research has created a thriving market for effective DEET alternatives. Below is a short list of DEET-free products available on-line and in stores.
Badger Anti-Bug Shake & Spray
Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent
Cutter Natural Insect Repellent
CVS Fresh Scent Insect Repellent
Hom’s Bite Blocker
Jason Quit Bugging Me! Insect Repellent
If you do rely upon DEET-containing products, remember these tips:
- Do not use DEET/ sunscreen combination products. The frequent reapplication of sunscreen will, “…pose unnecessary exposure to DEET,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. DEET is not water-soluble and will last up to eight hours, while sunscreen washes off and may only last a few hours.
- Do not use products with more than 30% DEET. They do not offer any extra protection according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and should especially be avoided for use on children.
For all insect repellents, the EPA recommends:
- “Do not allow children to handle…and do not apply to children’s hands. When using on children, apply to your own hands and then put it on the child.
- Apply sparingly around ears.” According to the EPA Reregistration Eligibility Decision report on DEET, absorption of pesticides through the skin is, “…approximately four times greater around the ears than the forearm.”
To help you find the right product for you, consult: