More on Bug Spray and DEET

1 Comment 29.Jun, 2012, 9:00

I received a great comment on my last blog about alternatives to bug spray, it was such a good comment I wanted to address it fully.  This is a huge topic for discussion.  Nelly is right that West Nile and other mosquito borne diseases are a huge concern and should be a large consideration when wearing an insect repellent in the first place.

However, like most topics there are two sides to every story.  Yes there has been a lot of research to disprove the use of essential oils, claiming they do not work as good as their chemical counter parts. There has also been a tonne of research on the potentially harmful effects of DEET.  So here are some facts:

  • A safety review was completed in 1998 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on products using Diethyl Toluamide (DEET)
  • There are approximately 140 products containing DEET currently registered with EPA with about 39 different companies [1]
  • EPA passed DEET as a safe product for public use only under the following guidelines. Do not apply over open skin. Do not apply to hands, near eyes and mouth of open children. Do not use under clothing. Avoid over application of this product, and not suitable for long term use.  After returning indoors, wash skin with soap and water. Wash treated clothing before wearing it again. [1]
  • DEET is a neurotoxin and can be deadly if ingested. It is unsafe for small children, keep in mind children under 2 years of age on average put their hands in their mouth every 2 minutes [2]
  • Do not use DEET on clothing or other items containing plastic or synthetics such as nylon or polyester, as it can permanently damage such materials, it can even dissolve certain types of paint and nail polish  [2]
  • The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reported significant toxicity from DEET exposure during the period of 1961-2002. The most frequently reported symptoms of DEET toxicity in children were lethargy, headaches, tremors, involuntary movements, seizures, and convulsions [3]
  • In cases of accidental significant DEET ingestion in children, symptoms included impaired gait, loss of muscles control, loss of consciousness, hypertonia, tremors and seizures [3]
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics state that DEET is not considered safe for any child under the age of 5
  • Poison Control Centers reported more than 6700 reactions to insect repellents in 1995, with 4300 related to children 6 and under
  • Natural repellents do help ward off mosquitoes, black flies, gnats, and fleas, and they provide some protection against ticks, although they need to be reapplied every few hours in order to stay effective

Anything that has this extent of warnings with use is not something I want to be putting on my body or keeping in my house.  It is hard to imagine the benefit of these chemicals outweighing the harm they can potentially cause.  It is important to be properly educated.  This is why it is important for me to offer some alternatives to DEET.  I respect whatever you choose as the best option for your health and your family; ultimately this must to be your choice.  I want to help offer the information these companies don’t include in their commercials.  I also strongly encourage you to do your own research.  We are part of the age of information; use your resources to your advantage.

I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic!  Let’s keep this discussion going.  Please feel free to comment or add links of your own!


[1] Environmental Protection Agency –

[2] Prescription for Nutritional Healing 4TH Edition, Balch Phyllis A, CNC (pages 525, 551)

[3] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry-

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One comment on “More on Bug Spray and DEET

  1. Pingback: Alternatives to Bug Spray | Bundles Of Energy

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