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BUG Repellent: The DANGERS OF DEET and the Natural alternative

May 31, 2014 4 min read

Deet was developed and patented by the US Army in 1946 for use by military personnel. It was registered for use by the general public in the US in 1957. It is manufactured by one company in the US. Several cases of toxic encephalopathy associated with the use of DEET in children have been reported in the medical literature. The first reported case involved a 3 1/2 yr old girl whose body, bedclothes and bedding were sprayed each night for 2 weeks with an insect repellent containing 15% deet. Since then, five additional cases of toxic encephalopathy have been temporarily associated with the use of Deet products in children, all of whom were females. The toxic encephalopathy was characterized by agitation, weakness, disorientation, ataxia, seizures, coma and 3 cases resulted in death. Autopsies conducted on 2 fatalities indicated edema of the brain, with one case presenting necrotic lesions in cerebellum and spinal cord and an enlarged liver accompanied by microscopic changes. (Heich et al., 1980). Generalized seizures have also been temporarily associated with the use of Deet containing insect repellent on skin. (Oransky et al 1989). Hypertrophy of the kidneys and liver and effects of mild central nervous system stimulation including tremors and hyperactivity were noted in animals following repeated exposure. Deet is absorbed promptly from the skin and distributed to all organs including the brain and the fetus. The compound is excreted in the milk but primarily in the urine. The fact that the majority of identified neurotoxic cases involved children raises concerns that this subpopulation is at greater risk of adverse reaction following exposure to Deet than are adults. Dermal cases of localized skin irritation, large painful blisters and permanent scarring of skin at the crease of the elbow have been reported in soldiers who applied solution of 50 or 75 percent deet. Everglades National Park employees indicated a variety of dermal reactions including rashes, irritation of skin and mucous membranes and numb or burning sensations of the lips among park workers who were highly exposed to Deet containing repellents.

Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist Mohamed Abou-Donia has spent more than 30years researching the effects of pesticides. He has found that prolonged exposure to DEET can impair functioning in parts of the brain. “Damage to these areas could result in problems with muscle coordination, muscle weakness, walking or accomplishing even the easiest tasks. “We found that the combined exposure to Deet and other chemicals is more dangerous than Deet alone.” Abou-Donia also warns to never put a product containing DEET on an infant’s or child’s skin. The side-effects could be even more serious.

Cornell University: Products containing DEET are beneficial as insect repellents, but have been associated with dermal and neurological reactions in humans.

American Academy of Pediatrics:   Products with lower concentrations of deet are not necessarily safer for children than those with greater concentrations. Therefore, the EPA no longer allows claims that DEET products are specifically indicated for children.

Duke University Medical Center   Studies in 2001 found that Deet causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioural changes in rats after frequent and prolonged use. Abou-Donia, PH.D. has also called for further government testing of the chemicals safety in short term and occasional use. While the chemicals risks to humans are still being intensely debated, he says 30 years of research on pesticide brain effects clearly indicate the need for caution among the general public. If used sparingly, infrequently, and by itself, Deet may not have negative effects – the literature here isn’t clear” he said. “But frequent and heavy use of Deet, especially in combination with other chemicals or medication could cause brain deficits in vulnerable populations”. Children in particular are at risk for subtle brain changes caused by chemicals in the environment, because their skin more readily absorbs them, and chemicals more potently affect their developing nervous systems,” says Abou-Donia.

The take home message is to be safe and cautious when using insecticides,’ said Abou-Donia. “Never use insect repellents on infants, and be wary of using on children in general. Never combine insecticides with each other or use them with other medications. Even so simple a drug as an antihistamine could interact with Deet to cause toxic side effects. Don’t spray your yard for bugs and then take medications.

The above are various exerts from research on DEET. At Nature’s Creations we do not us any DEET products and nor do we advocate the use of Deet on any human or animal. We do not advocate the testing of chemicals on animals and advise our clients to use an alternative.

DEET FREE Outdoor Oil has been tried, tested and proven effective all over the world, so why use a product like deet? Product formulator Suzanne Laurin-Seale traveled the world and researched the various forms of botanical bug repellents used by aboriginal peoples. From her findings she combined the wisdom of first nation people from around the world and created the modern day version of century old formulas combined together. This 100% natural, NON-TOXIC product has been successfully sold for over 10yrs.

Support Vancouver’s most natural body care provider; Natural Beauty Skincare® by Nature’s Creations and make the world a more beautiful place to live.


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