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What is DEET?

What is DEET?

Classified as a pesticide by the EPA, DEET, or diethyl-meta-toluamide, can be found in most over-the-counter insect repellents. Media coverage documenting the health risks associated with it’s use have prompted retailers to look for alternative formula to deet insect repellents – largely due to the media’s attention to the potential dangers of DEET.

Three major incidents set the presses rolling. In 1995, New York State banned products with 30% or more DEET concentration after reviewing 44 public health studies; The U.S. Military supplies soldiers with 33% or less DEET insect repellents; and DEET is suspected of being responsible, in part, for Gulf War Syndrome.

DEET has been proven to enter the bloodstream through application to the skin, and while many people use DEET insect repellents without incident, others have suffered side-effects, DEET produces ranging from rashes and hives to uncontrollable twitching and muscle spasms to death. Children seem especially susceptible to DEET problems. In 1995 alone, the National Poison Control Center in Washington, DC. received over 6,700 reports of repellent exposure, including one death, and of the 6,700 reports, two thirds occurred in children age six and under.

The biggest media jolt came when ABC’s PrimeTime Live did a twenty minute segment on DEET. The public began to pay serious attention, and companies like ours began to see very strong product movement (DEET free insect repellents). PrimeTime’s report focused on particularly dramatic incidents that highlight the dangers. The program told the stories of Tim Christiansen, who at 26 years old died after using DEET insect repellents twice one summer day in 1994; on Elijah Harrison, an 8 year old boy who’s mother sprayed him with a 25% DEET insect repellents once a day for two days – he still suffers from seizures; and on workers in the Everglades National Park who experienced rashes, dizziness and numbness of the lips after using DEET insect repellents.

Reported toxic side effects and dangers of DEET:
  • May cause rashes and hives
  • May cause uncontrollable twitching, muscle spasms
  • May cause irritation to eyes, lips and other sensitive areas
  • May damage certain fabrics and plastics such as spectacle frames, watch crystals or straps, combs, and handles of pocket knives.
Disadvantages of DEET insect repellents:
  • Oily feel on the skin
  • Less effective in low concentrations
  • Increased toxic side effect risks in high concentrations
  • Has a strong ‘chemical’ smell.
DEET Safety

Next time you see a can of bug spray take a look at it’s active ingredients and  read the precautions on the back of the label

Here are a few you will find:

  • Apply DEET insect repellents sparingly on exposed skin; do not use under clothing
  • Do not use DEET on the hands of young children; avoid applying to areas around the eyes and mouth
  • Do not use DEET on children under age eight
  • Do not use DEET over cuts, wounds or irritated skin. Wash treated skin with soap and water after returning indoors; wash treated clothing
  • Avoid spraying in enclosed areas; do not use DEET insect repellents near food
  • Overexposure to DEET at any age can produce toxic effects, including itching and rash and, in severe cases, irritability, insomnia, and confusion
  • DEET should not be used in a product that combines the repellent with a sunscreen. Sunscreens often are applied repeatedly because they can be washed off. DEET is not water-soluble and will last up to 8 hours. Repeated application may increase the potential side effects of DEET
  • Given all the above considerations, it’s obvious that DEET and DEET insect repellents are not 100% safe. We highly suggest that you use natural, DEET free insect repellents

Why risk your health using DEET insect repellents when The Locals “Sandfly & Mozzie Stuff and Spray” natural DEET free insect repellent effectively and safely does the job?

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