Is Bug Spray Dangerous?

One chemical found in many insect repellents is DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide).  For as long as DEET has existed, questions have been raised about its safety.  Research suggests that the substance may affect your cells in unintended ways.

DEET can interfere with the activity of enzymes that are vital for your nervous system to function properly. Researchers found that DEET blocked the enzyme cholinesterase, which is essential for transmitting messages from insect brains to insect muscles -- but  DEET may also affect the nervous systems of mammals.  Chemicals that interfere with the action of cholinesterase can cause symptoms ranging from excessive salivation and eye-watering to muscle spasms and death.

Live Science mentions this possible alternative:

“One of the newest arrivals on store shelves is picaridin, a substance derived from pepper that is popular in Europe and Australia. Studies by its manufacturer suggest that picaridin lasts for two to eight hours and is just as effective as DEET, but is less oily and completely odorless. Independent studies by the EPA are underway.”

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