Why Harvard & Duke Doctors Say Stay Away From DEET

If DEET is Neurotoxic and Linked to Brain Cell Death...

Why are we spraying it on our kids?

DEET is seen as one of the most effective products for repelling insects, but the concern is that it can be neurotoxic...

Sandy Tsao, M.D. 

Assistant Professor Harvard Medical School

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You're not too keen on having your kids breathing in DEET or absorbing it through their skin...

Kid's are going to be exposed to chemicals... but you'd prefer to minimize it and not spray chemicals directly on them.

If it was just you, you wouldn't have as big of an issue... but since it's your kids...

More...

Kids playing in the yard

Keeping kids mosquito free in the summer usually involves DEET.

We think that DEET and other chemical-based repellents should be used only if other, safer methods don't work for you...

Urvashi Rangan

Director of Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center

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Even if you use bug spray... it can be difficult to keep your kids covered.

Nicholas Citrin

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Stop Spraying Your Kids With Chemicals

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"We no longer have to spray ourselves down with stinky sprays to go out and enjoy the evenings"

DEET was originally tested as a pesticide on farm fields

And entered military use in 1946.

Crop Duster

DEET was originally used as an agricultural pesticide. Photo by Charles Walker.

Most cases of seizures, slurred speech, coma and other serious side effects have occurred in people who ingested DEET or applied it for three or more days in a row...

Washington Post

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Skin absorbs DEET and it proceeds to the blood stream and other internal organs.

You need to be very careful when using DEET on your kids. Different concentrations are linked to seizures and other medical emergencies.

Duke University... studies on rats, found that frequent prolonged DEET exposure led to diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes, and concluded that humans should stay away from products containing it...

Scientific American

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Lab Mouse

Lab rodents experienced brain cell death after prolonged exposure to DEET. Photo by Rama.

Canada doesn't even allow DEET...

Repellents with over 30% concentration.

Canada's health department recommends a maximum of 10% DEET for children under 12 years old.

They also strongly advise against daily usage for more than a month...

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Canada's Health Department considers DEET a health risk - especially for children. Photo by Abdallahh.

If you're still going to use DEET

Make sure you follow the directions and don't:

  • Apply DEET repeatedly
  • Apply to broken skin
  • Apply under clothing
  • Use on children under 2 years of age
  • Forget to wash it off after returning inside
  • Apply to children's hands - they can spread it to their mouth and eyes

Bug bites or chemicals

You'd like to not have to decide between having your kids bit by mosquitoes or applying harmful chemicals to them...

One of the best ways to reduce the use of repellents is reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard.

Mosquito repellent will never be completely effective and for that reason, it is imperative to put other roadblocks between the mosquito and you...

Joel Schlessinger, M.D.

Dermatologist

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After helping 1,000's of people with mosquitoes, I've honed in on what works (and what doesn't) for each type of yard.


This mosquito questionnaire will help you determine what solutions will work best for your yard.

Nicholas Citrin

CloverWall

Let Your Kids Play Outside Without Mosquitoes

7 multiple choice questions to get a personalized mosquito plan for your yard

"I forgot how bad it was to deal with mosquitoes in the back yard because we don't have to..."

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