Monday, July 7, 2008

Is DEET Bug Spray Safe?

We all want to keep bugs away this summer, but which bug sprays are safe? I have been trying to keep my little ones inside when it starts to get dark, but that's not always easy when the other kids in the neighborhood are running around. So, I thought it would be good to see if there are any alternative, natural bug sprays that are approved by the FDA.

The EPA says DEET products are only dangerous to infants under two months old, but many parents are still concerned about putting a toxic chemical on a child's skin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found three alternatives to DEET: picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and citronella oil.

Naturally Yours Grocery store inPeoria says the scent of citronella and rose oils in natural bug sprays may keep insects away just as well as DEET products. They also say these repellents are safer for children. Virginia White said, "These do not have the DEET in them because DEET has been proven to cause some type of brain damage and slow memory loss in people especially in children because their brains are still developing."

A bottle of DEET free insect repellent like Burt's Bees or Garlic Shield from Naturally Yours in Peoria costs about $8.00.

The Daily Green has an interesting take on whether or not DEET is dangerous.

Cutter Advanced
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus
OFF! Botanicals
Fight Bite Plant-Based Insect Repellent

National Coalition against the Misuse of Pesticides

Bite Stop
Beat It Bug Buster
All Terrain
Repel’s Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent.

Pesticide Action Network North America Recommendations:

Herbal Armor
Buzz Away
Green Ban
Bite Blocker

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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SallyN said...

I grew up in the Northeast... lots of bugs and mosquitoes... we swore by Avon's "Skin So Soft". said...

I wondered about that one. You do think it works to keep the bugs off?

tsheets said...

I don't think the skin so soft least not anymore. Either it was a huge urban legend all along, or they changed the formula or something.

Ahh ok...found a reference.

Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus: 23 minutes
Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard: 10 minutes
Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil: 10 minutes
Skin-So-Soft Moisturizing Suncare: 3 minutes

The Repel Lemon Eucalyptus and Bite Blocker are also listed at 2 hours and 1.5 hours of protection.

Some DEET products are not at all effective and some give the best protection, I guess it just depends on the product.

All info taken from said...

Thanks for the great info tsheets! Have you found a bug repellent you like to use?

SallyN said...

When I was a field geologist, and mucking (in long sleeves, pants, hat and heavy duty boots!) around in mosquito and tick-infested swamps (lovely imagery there, sorry!), I swore by Off! Skintastic. The mosquitoes would still hang out around and/or on me, but wouldn't bite. Though, it's not DEET-free. I wouldn't use it on my daughter, who is still rather likely to put her hands, feet, clothes or other body parts, in her mouth. A school-age child however, I might be inclined to use it if we were camping or the bugs were particularly bad. But probably not on a regular basis.

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