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What is DEET

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What is DEET and is it safe to use

You have planned this trip for months now. Every eventuality planned for except of course the newly swarming insects threatening to make you jump into the nearest lake. How do you repel these swarms of flying insects intent on annoying you, taking your blood, and in certain instances, making you sick?

What are the right insect repellents? And delving more deeply, what makes some the "right" ones and others the wrong ones - what's actually in them?  This is where the chemical DEET comes into play. What is DEET? Quite simply, it's a chemical thought up by the U.S. government, that's used in a variety of substances. One of these substances happens to be insect repellent.

We'll delve into whether it is safe enough to use each time you head out on a new outdoor adventure. Not to spoil the surprise, but testing has been done on people -- from children to adults -- and the chemical has been found to be safe in the quantities the label suggests for usage.

What is DEET?

N,N-dethyl-meta-toluamide, more commonly known as DEET, is an ingredient found within many current insect repellents found in the marketplace. Its purpose within insect repellents is to help repel insects such as ticks and mosquitoes during times of outdoor activity. It is a popular product, as each year up to one-third of the U.S. population will use it in liquid, lotion, and spray versions of repellents, as well as in non-repellent materials like wrist bands.

The History of the Chemical

It was originally conceived by the U.S. army circa 1946 with the express purpose of repelling insects while not actually killing them. It became available for use by the general population in 1957. It's currently used in more than 140 products that are registered through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by more than 40 companies. These statistics come from a March 23, 2007, report done by the EPA.

Is it Safe?

This is one of the more important questions a person may have before they slather on the insect spray. As you will want to protect your children and other family members from harmful bug bites, it'll important to first understand how effective and safe the product purports to be. To answer your questions, below:

DEET has been studied since its inception, and according to the EPA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and more, it's a safe chemical to use.

This is so as long as the user follows the instructions for use found on the product label. This means that the consumer should follow general guidelines on the spray, work with limited exposure to the product, and follow these simple steps in order to use products safely.

If consumers follow these instructions, using such products aren't purported to be harmful to one's health. In addition, though, there are products that are free of chemicals. Oils as well can be an all-natural way to repel insects while in the out of doors. There are many different forms of products; some will contain chemicals and others will not.

Why Use Repellents, in General?

Bites from mosquitoes and ticks can be more than just a nuisance. These flying creatures can carry such diseases as Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, encephalitis, and more. It's important to be protected when you go out. The CDC receives around 20,000 reports of Lyme disease per year, as well as approximately 100 reports of encephalitis, which is transmitted through mosquito bites.

These diseases can be life-threatening at worst with the ability to cause serious health issues for the unfortunate soul who is bitten. With areas where there are a high concentration of disease-carrying insects, it's important to use insect repellent on not only you, but family members and children. Studies revealed by the EPA showed that DEET-infused sprays repelled ticks for between three to eight hours.


Deet.com: About DEET.

EPA.gov: The Insect Repellent DEET.

Above photo attributed to AWA

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