I’m one of those lucky people who Mosquitoes love. They find me as soon as I arrive to the vicinity, even when nobody else is bothered. This picture describes a day in the sun for me. This is me enjoying an outdoor moment…complete with Vitamin D, fresh air…and mosquitos galore! But the bug sprays are full of DEET, so beware of them and look for more natural ingredients.
Repelling insects, especially those pesky, nasty mosquitoes, is so much more important that it was years ago. As if a bug crawling on our skin weren’t bad enough, now there are diseases these bugs carry that could make us deathly ill, maybe even terminally ill, just from one ‘innocent’ bite. With all of the diseases carried by insects, such as West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease and Malaria, the scare is very real. You might be tempted to reach for the strongest, most popular brand of repellent, but consider these facts before you reach for that bottle of toxic repellent:
v DEET is the most widely used mosquito repellent, developed by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and patented by the U.S. Army in 1946.
v DEET is absorbed through the skin and passes into the blood. The Medical Sciences Bulletin, published by Pharmaceutical Information Associates Ltd. reports, “Up to 56% of DEET applied topically penetrates human skin and 17% is absorbed into the bloodstream.”
v DEET is a registered pesticide. Blood concentrations of about 3 mg per liter have been reported several hours after DEET repellent was applied to skin in the prescribed fashion.
v DEET is also absorbed by your gut, how yummy does that sound (“Honey, what’s for dinner? Pesticides, again?”)
v Seriously, DEET has very alarming effects on the central nervous system. Dr. Mohammed Abou-Donia of Duke University studied lab animals’ performance of neuro-behavioral tasks requiring muscle coordination. He found that lab animals exposed to the equivalent of average human doses of DEET performed far worse than untreated animals. Abou-Donia also found that combined exposure to DEET and permethrin, a mosquito spray ingredient, can lead to memory dysfunction, learning disabilities and motor deficits.
v To make it worse, many commercial products combine DEET with ethyl and isopropyl alcohols (as well as Freon!), increasing the toxicity with the combination of chemicals (according to an emergency medicine bulletin).
v Any product with DEET is required to carry instructions that they should not be used at all for children under 6 months. Additional required warnings state that for children 6 months to 2 years, only concentrations of less than 10% DEET should be used, and only once a day. For children from 2 -12 years old, only concentrations under 10% should be used, and repellents should not be applied more than 3 times a day. Sounds to me like we should avoid it all day, everyday with all of these restrictions!
Still not convinced?
Here’s a few more reasons to use Organic Bug Spray instead of petroleum based, synthetic chemically-laden products on your largest organ (your skin):
v Wildlife, especially birds and aquatic life, are harmed from the use of DEET…because of it’s production and our use of it as a society, it has been found to reside in 75% of U.S. water sources.
Here’s the Icing on the cake:
v DEET as a repellent doesn’t work as well as natural bug spray! In a 2008 U.S. WASHINGTON study (Reuters), it was found that DEET doesn’t block the insects’ sense of smell, it just stinks to them. In the same study, they found that mosquitoes reacted stronger to the Terpenoids, which are the compounds in the aroma of Eucalyptus (and cloves, menthol and camphor).
When you find one that works well, let me know. My favorite product is no longer available and when my stockpile runs out, I’ll need another miracle to turn to with Eucalyptus in it…so thanks for sharing!