840 – Insect Repellent

Excerpted from LiveScience.com:

One chemical found in many repellents is DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide). Developed and tested in the 1940s and 1950s by the U.S. Army for use in jungle warfare during World War II, DEET is extremely efficient at repelling mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, chiggers and blood-feeding flies such as black flies and deer flies.

In addition to popular forms such as aerosols and pump sprays, DEET is also found in towelettes, lotions, creams and gels. The chemical keeps insects away for hours after application and can be applied over sunscreen.

But as long as DEET has been around, it has raised questions over its safety from citizens and scientists alike. Some are bothered by the smell, while others worry that it may irritate skin; many have felt the burning sting of accidentally spraying bug repellent over a minor cut.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency re-approved the use of DEET in 1998 after an extensive safety review, new data suggests that the substance may affect our cells in unintended ways.

A 2009 study found that DEET can interfere with the activity of enzymes that are vital for the nervous system to function properly. In the study, the researchers found that DEET blocked the enzyme cholinesterase, which is essential for transmitting messages from the brain to the muscles in insects. The researchers noted that DEET may also affect the nervous systems of mammals, and that more research in this area is needed.

While the recent DEET study may deter some people from using bug spray altogether, other scientists have suggested that people keep in mind that the purpose of bug repellents is to prevent being pricked by biting insects that may transmit disease, including Lyme disease, malaria and encephalitis.

However, based on a 1998 review, EPA officials determined that DEET, if used as directed, does not pose significant health risks to consumers.

( http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20100704/sc_livescience/isbugspraydangerous )

Consumer Reports’ recommendations

Excerpted from the Consumer Reports ( Posted: 07/06/2010 )

 Six products kept mosquitoes and ticks away for at least 7 hours:

  •     Off Deep Woods Sportsmen II
  •     Cutter Backwoods Unscented
  •     Off FamilyCare Smooth & Dry
  •     3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent 8
  •     Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus
  •     Natrapel 8-Hour with picaridin

If you want a DEET-free repellent, Consumer Reports recommends the Natrapel 8-Hour with Picaridin or, for anyone older than 3, Repel with Lemon Eucalyptus.

For the full report: http://www.katu.com/news/problemsolver/consumerreports/97914714.html

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