Insect Repellent & Bug Spray
Thank you to Dr. Chen from @plateful.health for co- writing this post with me and offering her amazing advice and medical expertise!
The CDC reports that cases of diseases from mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the US from 2004 to 2016. So the worry for insect born diseases is a real concern.
Here are some tips when choosing:
1️⃣The repellent you choose needs to take into consideration where you live/are going, and what diseases/insects are endemic. Deet is recommended by the EWG and CDC if going somewhere where Zika, West Nile, and Lymes are a threat.
2️⃣There needs to be a careful balancing act between the risk of potentially life-altering diseases and possible toxicity from bug spray ingredients. There has been safety concerns around DEET because it is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (a neurotransmitter in the nervous system) and animal studies have shown possible neurotoxicity with a few case studies of neurotoxicity reported in children. However, large human studies have not been conclusive. (PMID 12900480)
3️⃣The top 4 active ingredients in bug spray recommended by EWG are:
🐛DEET (<10-30%) and EPA registered. See #4 for better % details.
🐛 Picaridin (<20%) and EPA registered. Performs like DEET, low inhalation toxicity.
🐛 IR3535 (<20%) and EPA registered, can be irritating to eyes but poses few other safety risks.
🐛 Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (<30-40%). Shorter protection time than DEET.
4️⃣The Canadian Government recommendations limit DEET to <30% for adults and <10% for children.
The CDC recommends <10% in areas for adults with NO known disease risk and <30% for adults with known diseases. And <10% for children with NO known risk disease and <20-30% for children with known disease.
5️⃣Concentrations of deet higher than 50% have not been shown to be more effective.
6️⃣Bug spray should not be used on babies 6 months or younger. And oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children younger than 3, according to EWG.
7️⃣Avoid repellants that have parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, or other harsh ingredients.