Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Outdoor Fun With Non-Toxic Repellents

So much blogging inspiration on Mamapedia, the topics are endless. As I continue thinking about all the fun things to do in the summer I also ask the question of where to find a safe insect repellent. With so many products on the market loaded with DEET and other chemicals, what's a parent to do?

If you never questioned the typical insect repellent, swallow this:
Every year, 100 million Americans slather on insect repellent to enjoy their outdoor barbecues, picnics and activities without getting bitten or stung. However, in the repellents used by about one-third of the U.S. population is a powerful chemical commonly known as DEET. Now this known neurotoxin, has been detected in lakes and rivers. According to testing done for the Chicago Sun-Times, DEET is also present in your drinking water.

What makes the finding of DEET in drinking water so concerning is the fact that DEET is potentially very toxic, particularly to children. While the EPA maintains that the chemical is safe when used correctly, studies have shown that when used in high amounts, or for long periods of time, DEET is far from safe.

DEET has been shown to cause nervous-system damage, including:

* Insomnia
* Mood changes
* Disorientation and clumsiness when walking
* Seizures
* Coma
* Even death

And according to studies by Abou-Dania, while lab rats had no reaction to DEET when it was used for 30 days, after 60 days their brain cells started to die. Adding to the problem is the fact that DEET does not degrade quickly, nor does it breakdown much as it passes through sewage or drinking-water treatment plants. Scientists are worried that DEET may collect in the sediment of streams and prove toxic to birds, fish and other wildlife.
Are we clear on the harm that DEET can cause? Alright, now let's move on to solutions! One product that has proved itself to be both effective and non-toxic is Bug Bam, a wrist bracelet made with all natural, plant-based essential oils. It contains no chemicals, is safe for kids and pets, is not messy, not expensive, and pretty much a must for anyone spending time outdoors in mosquito season.

I've seen many moms recommend Avon Skin So Soft - that concerns me also. While it may be effective, the ingredients are not 100% safe. It contains aluminum,, among other things, which is a neurotoxin often contaminated with lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals. If you use their Bug Guard, you get a nice dose of oxybenzone and isobutane, no wonder the bugs don't like it!

Another solution is making your own insect repellent. Here are some recipes, just mix together all the ingredients in a spray bottle:

Recipe One
  • 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup witch hazel (or cheap vodka)
  • 5 drops of citronella or eucalyptus essential oil
Recipe Two
  • 1/3 cup vanilla (pure, no alcohol)
  • 1/3 cup water
Recipe Three
  • 15 drops citronella essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 5 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 1.5 oz distilled water
  • 1.5 oz high-proof alcohol
Let us know what worked for you if you try any of the above recipes! If you are lazy though and don't feel like buying essential oils, there are natural insect repellents on the market. Here are some that are non-toxic that you can try: Alpenglow Skincare Alaska's Best, Bubble and Bee Organic Bug 'Bee' Gone, Burt's Bees Herbal Insect Repellent, Buzz Away, and Encoura Insect Repellent.

Hope this helps and enjoy the outdoors!

sources: Skin Deep Cosmetic Database
Chicago Sun Times
Homeland Security Website

Disclaimer: This article is not intended as medical advice. Seek the advice of a trusted and qualified health care professional.

1 comment:

  1. I have heard that geranium oil is even more potent that eucalyptus or citronella for repelling insects. I intend to check it out this year!



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