The impact of mosquitoes in the United States has become a large-scale issue this season. I have not seen as many news reports this late in the mosquito season as I have this year. With reports of multiple cases this month that have led to more than 5 deaths, it has really made me reconsider how I am defending myself against mosquitoes and other biting insects. Should I use these off the shelf DEET products? Or should I be using some of the more natural products?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released an official statement saying the oil of lemon eucalyptus could be a much safer and a more natural weapon than DEET. So, I guess lemons have a greater purpose than squeezing them onto my fish tacos. Most of us have already had knowledge of lemon eucalyptus working as an effective repellent, but CDC officially saying it might be more effective than DEET is amazing!!
The CDC also confirmed the oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is also registered with EPA, was tested against mosquitoes found in the US and it provided protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET. DEET was originally the only repellent recommended by the CDC, but now the CDC also recommends lemon eucalyptus.
With this being true can we finally stop using this toxic and synthetic chemical known as DEET? I’ve never been a fan of using DEET in the first place. Dr Mohammed Abou-Donia from Duke University did a study on lab animals and their performance of euro-behavioral tasks while being exposed to the same average human doses of DEET. The results were the lab animals performing far worse than the animals who were untreated. This seemed crazy to me because I used to use DEET when taking my dogs on walks.
In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health surveyed a National Park about the use of DEET and the answers are very interesting and scary. Surveys reported reactions of rashes, mucous membranes, numbness, irritation of skin and even showed that employees with extensive DEET exposure had mood disturbances, and impaired cognitive function than employees with less DEET exposure. Did you know DEET can damage certain materials such as rubber, plastic, synthetic fibers, and vinyl? It does not surprise me that death has been reported as a neurological side effect of DEET exposure with what it does to humans already and what it does to other materials.
More and more people are already transitioning away from using DEET and moving to another, safer, more