No matter who you are, there is no question that the one thing that can always ruin a beautiful day spent outdoors is insects. In some areas, bites from mosquitoes and ticks can mean hospitalization or long term health conditions that are more than worth avoiding, but regardless of the risk, most of us get tired of shooing away insects or scratching the bites they leave behind pretty quickly. Since wearing layers isn’t always the ideal solution in the heat of Rochester summers, those of us who are environmentally conscious are constantly trying to solve the dilemma of “chemical vs. natural” repellants. Which works better, and at what cost?
In most traditional bug sprays, the active ingredient is DEET – an effective but controversial insect repellant that has been targeted recently by many researchers for the lack of thorough testing. In 2002, Health Canada went so far as to ban entirely products which contained more than 30% DEET, and recommended a maximum of 10% concentration for children under 12. The use of DEET on children is a particularly hot topic, with many researchers and organizations arguing that children under 2 should be exposed minimally, if at all.
On the environmental side, DEET has been shown to be present in many lakes and rivers in the United States, and is toxic to several types of fish and zooplankton. While intensive studies have not been done, it’s safe to say that DEET is an iffy choice for those interested in the conservation and protection of natural ecosystems.
With the present health concerns – especially those for children – we can’t help but wonder what alternatives exist, and if they really work. Many natural oils, like Lemon Eucalyptus and lemon grass, in addition to the commonly used citronella, have been shown to be highly effective alternatives to the use of DEET, and are available in many all-natural insect repellents commonly available today.
For a list of effective and non-toxic insect repellents listed with ingredients and price, follow this link.