dangers of DEET

by

Lauren Stiles

Excuse me. What?

August 19, 2021


So you’re camping. Of course, there are bugs that are gonna bite you. Therefore, to avoid some unfortunate itching you grab the OFF bug spray. Yeah, I’ve done that a lot and so have millions of others.

But, turns out OFF’s Deep Wood Insect Repellant is not as helpful as we might think. Yes, it will keep those pesky mosquitos away, but it is likely harming the very environment that you are meaning to appreciate.

This big spray has 25% DEET, or diethyltoluamide which prevents bugs from landing on your skin. The EPA has actually found this compound to be slightly toxic to birds, fish, and aquatic invertebrates, which is concerning. Therefore, it’s recommended that you use 10% DEET in order to have minimal impact on the ecosystem that you choose to visit. But, as I just mentioned, this bug spray is at 25%. Excuse me, what??

Additionally, this product contains propane and butane which are both nonrenewable energy sources that cause damage to the environment in their extraction (which requires mining) and use.

It seems that this bug spray contains ingredients that cause environmental harm and are not sustainable, which is unfortunate to see coming from an outdoor brand. Such brands should work harder on developing products that don’t damage surrounding ecosystems. I recommend using this kind of insect repellent only when absolutely necessary. Even then, it would be better to use a variant that has less percentage of DEET than OFF’s Deep Woods.

There are also less harmful alternatives to DEET when it comes to bug sprays. Honestly, I have not tried many but I am convinced that I should. 

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