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Why Most Bug Sprays Are Actually Dangerous


If you’re one of those people who’s always followed by a cloud of mosquitoes during the summer months or just know a thing or two about bug spray, you’ve certainly heard of DEET before. It’s a chemical that’s the main ingredient in many of the most popular insect repellents. There’s certainly a reason for this, it’s been proven effective for decades, saving countless people from disease.

However, DEET has a dark side you need to take into consideration before spraying it all over you, your kids, and your pets. It simply isn’t as safe as you’d expect such a widely used chemical to be. Maybe the bugs are smart for avoiding it!

People almost always use DEET based products when heading outdoors. Environmentally, the chemicals can linger in the ecosystem long after you’re gone. Health-wise, up to a quarter of people experience side effects ranging in severity from headaches to seizures. Health Canada took these risks into consideration when they banned bug sprays with a DEET concentration of 30 percent and above. Here’s a few reasons you should reconsider your choice in bug spray!

DEET is a Danger to the Environment:

DEET is a strong chemical with serious consequences for the ecosystem. A U.S. Geological Survey report found recently that DEET is one the most common chemicals to be contaminating streams. It can stick around in the soil, and doesn’t mix easily in water.

DEET has become one of the most common chemicals to be found in our water supplies. The EPA says that DEET is “slightly toxic” to fish, birds, and aquatic invertebrates which might not be a major concern, but why allow any toxicity at all to affect crucial wildlife when there are other options for protection?


DEET Destroys Plastics:

If these environmental concerns weren’t already enough, DEET is so strong that it’s able to melt plastic! This makes it not only hazardous but annoying when you have to handle all of your fishing and camping gear during the summer months. Many people have reported DEET burning through their tents or even their Gore-Tex pants when the liquid is left pooled on it for a few days. Imagine then what it can do to your skin?

Hopefully you won’t find yourself swimming in a pool of DEET anytime soon, but even normal use can lead to irritation, especially on those with sensitive skin. There’s no need to risk your both your summer gear and healthy skin when you head outdoors for summer fun.

DEET Health Effects:

The scariest and most dangerous effects of DEET are on the nervous system. It is a neurotoxic chemical, which sounds scary for good reason. Once it’s applied it can seep into the bloodstream through the skin. There’s a good chance you’ll be totally fine, but you shouldn’t have to play Russian roulette with every product you put on your body. This will only happen to a small percentage of people or when way too much is used over long periods of time, but it’s still terrifying. Muscle spasms and even seizures have been recorded.

There are also some less terrifying but more common health concerns as well. Up to a quarter of people report psychological symptoms from dizziness to headaches. Brain fog and difficulty concentrating may not be easily attributed to DEET but are some other common reactions.

What’s especially scary about this is that the greatest danger is to children or those with compromised immune systems. They are more susceptible to the effects of these chemicals, but these are the people who need the best protection from all of the disease that fleas and ticks carry.

DEET has been proven to cause a variety of side effects. When used incorrectly, it can even be overdosed with potentially fatal results. There have been 4 confirmed deaths! When applied according to CDC guidelines it should probably be safe for occasional use. It has to be used in correct amounts, so only sprays of 20% to 30% concentration, for short periods of time, while carefully avoiding eyes, ears, and open wounds. Doesn’t that sound like a few too many stipulations to be sure you’re doing it right?

It’s much better to have a simple product you know is safe and reliable without all of the stipulations. There’s no need to take this risk when there are safer and just as effective alternatives to use instead.


What to use Instead of DEET:

As unsafe as DEET might be, you can’t just let the bugs bite you. The itchy bites are simply annoying, and even worse, mosquitoes are carriers of tons of diseases like malaria and zika virus. Keeping skin covered or using mosquito nets works great, but sometimes you need an easier option.

As scientists have come to realize the potential dangers of the DEET-based bug sprays we’ve been using for decades, a few more natural alternatives have been developed. Citronella oil, lemongrass oil, and peppermint oil are all undoubtedly safe and just as capable.

One of the best options that combines all of the bug repelling ingredients in one powerful yet gentle formula is our Skedattle Bug Spray and Single Use Anti-Bug Wipes. It keeps the bugs at bay even better than DEET while being gentler on your skin. Skedattle gives you no headaches or skin irritation from chemicals and the pesky bugs will leave you alone. Natural bug sprays use oils that are much safer for the environment, for you and your children, and even your pets. It really works and smells fresh!