Monday, July 7, 2008

What's Bugging You?

Mosquito bites. What can you do to keep from getting them, besides slather yourself and your children down with dangerous DEET? Take a look at that "Family Insect Repellant" you are using. Most say "keep out of reach of children". Scary.

Here is a few facts about DEET from the website

DEET is a registered pesticide. DEET is short for N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (also known as N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). It is a member of the toluene chemical family. Toluene is an organic solvent used in rubber and plastic cements and paint removers. 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 intact human skin and 17% is absorbed into the bloodstream." Blood concentrations of about 3 mg per litre have been reported several hours after DEET repellent was applied to skin in the
prescribed fashion. DEET is also absorbed by the gut.

I don't have a degree in chemistry, so I can't tell you what the effects of a pesticide is on the body, but I wash it off my vegetables so is it something that I want to slather on my children? Here's a little more about the warnings that the EPA came out with several years ago. From the same website as listed above.

An emergency medicine bulletin notes that DEET may have significantly greater toxicity when combined with ethyl and isopropyl alcohols and freon which are components of some DEET repellents. In 1998, the US EPA made it illegal for any product containing DEET to make any child safety claims. Products with DEET are 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.

I read on to find that they recommend you come in and wash it off your skin immediately and ultimately warn against puting any on your skin at all. The EPA recommends wearing long sleeved shirts and pants instead of using this stuff! This stuff is nasty and is linked to neurilogical problems in children.

There are a number of natrually derived insect repellants available on the market. They do need to be applied more often but smell much better and do not have the harmful side effects brought on by products containing DEET.

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