Green Parenting: Safe Bug Repellent
The summertime means spending tons of time outdoors! There is nothing better than swimming, catching fireflies, building sandcastles and camp. With all of this outdoor activity, there is that ever present thought of bug bites.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard that DEET is no good for your little ones under three. But have you also heard you shouldn’t use something that is found in natural bug sprays too? Yes, oil of lemon eucalyptus isn’t recommended for children under three years old either. Another word of caution is not to apply any bug repellent to any baby under two months old.
Here is why DEET is a must avoid according to several studies:
“One of the most widely used ingredients in store-bought conventional bug sprays for personal use is N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, as it’s commonly known. DEET, which is designed to repel, rather than kill, insects. DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the US population each year. Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse neurological effects, as well as the deaths of two adults, have been associated with DEET. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats.
DEET has been shown to have a negative impact on wildlife and water sources in production and during use. DEET is toxic to birds and aquatic life. DEET has been found in approximately 75 percent of U.S. water sources, including the Mississippi River.”
If you want to decrease your chance of getting bitten or want to make your own bug spray, here are some easy tips and recipes:
- Wear long clothing when out and about at dawn and dusk and around water sources where mosquitoes tend to prey.
- Look for non-toxic bug sprays and/or make your own. Here are two a great resources for making your own: Wellness Mama and Green Your.
- Apply sunscreen before bug repellent and NEVER use a combo product. The lotion/repellent makes the bug spray absorb deeper into your skin.
- Burn citronella candles or add rosemary or sage to a fire pit or grill to keep bugs away.
And let’s be clear, bug bites are not a huge health hazard; sometimes they swell and cause itching. There have been a few cases of West Nile virus reported in the U.S. over the past couple of years but all-in-all, a bug bite is not the worse thing that can happen to you or your child. The trade-off for using DEET products just isn’t worth it. Fighting bugs with natural solutions is best for your family’s health as well as the environment.