- This Summer, Just Say No to Bugs!
This Summer, Just Say No to Bugs!
This Summer, Just Say No to Bugs!
Choosing the right repellent more critical than ever.
There is a growing body of evidence warning that DEET, the most often recommended and used repellent ingredient, can cause serious health problems. Furthermore, applying DEET while using sun block, increases DEET absorption into the blood by a factor of three.
A study from Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist, Dr. Abou-Donia Ph.D, reported that the chemical DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats after frequent and prolonged use. While the chemical's risks to humans are still being intensely debated, Abou-Donia says his 30 years of research on pesticides' brain effects clearly indicate the need for caution among the general public.
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, said Abou-Donia.
With heavy exposure to DEET and other insecticides, people may experience memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors and shortness of breath, said Abou-Donia. Such overt symptoms are not seen immediately after use but may manifest themselves months or years after exposure, making a cause-and-effect relationship difficult to establish.
Compounding the difficulty is a study released by Canada's University of Manitoba warning against using DEET based mosquito repellents with sun block.
The study, by professor of pharmacy Xiaochen Gu, found that when a 2.5-per-cent solution of insect-repelling DEET was mixed with oxybenzone, a very common sun-blocking ingredient, the amount of DEET absorbed into the skin went from 9.6 per cent to 30.2 per cent. There is evidence that if sun block and DEET are used together there may be an increased risk for stroke, headache and hypertension. About one-third of the population uses DEET based repellents, available in more than 230 products with concentrations up to 100 percent.
Practical alternatives to DEET repellents abound. The most popular brands are natural market leader Buzz Away Extreme as well as Bite Blocker, Avon Skin So Soft and All Terrain. These natural repellents are made from a variety of ingredients including plant oils and soy beans. The effectiveness of these products has been proven numerous times in University and independent tests. The primary difference is that natural repellents usually need to be applied more often than high percentage DEET products.
The Buzz Away Extreme formula, the most purchased brand among natural food store shoppers, has been tested against DEET products and other natural products by The University of Guelph, the USDA, NEJM and others. Buzz Away Extreme has been shown to last 4 to 8 hours, and repel ticks for up to 3.5 hours. The product is available throughout the US and Canada. The average DEET repellent is good for four to eight hours.
- The mosquito is attracted to heat, light, and two chemicals we humans produce - carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
- There are over 1,700 species of mosquito in North America.
- Only the female mosquito bites.
- Mosquitoes are born in standing water and rarely travel more than 300 feet from their place of birth.
- The male mosquito lives a week, females two.
Mosquito Control Tips:
- Avoid the outdoors at dusk, in the early evening or at dawn when mosquitoes are heaviest. If you are outdoors during those times, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Bear in mind that mosquitoes can bite through thin cloth.
- Get rid of standing water around the house - mosquitoes can breed there.
- Put holes in the bottom of containers that are left outdoors.
- Turn over plastic pools or other water containers when not in use.
- Clean out birdbaths and clogged roof gutters.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not in use.
- Ventilate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.
- If you have livestock, thoroughly clean their troughs every month.