As you may already be aware, the Texas Department of State Health Services has commissioned aerial spraying of the chemical Duet. The most up to date information regarding the spraying can be found at the City of Dallas’ website.
The City of Dallas has issued the following recommendations:
- Minimize exposure. Avoid being outside, close windows and consider keeping pets inside while spraying occurs.
- If skin or clothes are exposed, wash them with soap and water.
- Rinse homegrown fruits and vegetables with water as a general precautionary measure.
- Cover small ornamental fish ponds.
- Because the chemical breaks down quickly in sunlight and water, no special precautions are suggested for outdoor swimming areas.
Now, everyone knows that taking precautions to reduce the risk of mosquito bites and possible disease spread is very important, but excessive exposure to synthetic, chemically-based insect repellents can cause long term harm. Furthermore, the most common ingredient used in commercial insect repellents, DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluidine), is not recommended for use on children under two months of age or on pregnant women.
If you do use DEET-based repellents, read the label and make sure you use them according to the manufacturer’s’ guidelines. A certain amount of DEET can be absorbed through your skin and into your bloodstream, and in large doses it can make you seriously ill. DEET can act as an irritant, and has been reported to be the cause of seizures, insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognitive function. The NHS and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) say that products containing 50 percent DEET are safe to use while pregnant, however we don’t know much about the possible harmful effects on the developing baby.
Beware of misting systems that contain permethrin, a neurotoxin that is dangerously toxic to cats, and potentially dangerous to humans. Also of concern is the new Off! Clip-on, which contains the chemical Metofluthrin, known to cause severe neurotoxic symptoms in dogs, rabbits, and rats. To minimize your exposure, replace any old air filters in your home in addition to using an additional air purification system, if you own one.
Fortunately, there are many safer options to help ward off the pesky suckers:
- Wear protective clothing that is loose-fitting and light in color.
- Avoid wearing bright or floral patterns.
- Use unscented shampoo, soap, deodorant, laundry detergent, etc.
- Refrain from wearing perfume.
- High quality garlic capsules can work wonders in preventing mosquito bites.
- Use mosquito netting when outside for prolonged periods, especially over strollers, baby carriers and car seats when the baby is sitting in them outside.
- Eliminate standing water around your home.
- Plant mosquito repellent herbs such as rosemary, lemon balm, lavender, basil and catnip.
Try one of the following more natural mosquito repellents:
- Skeeter Screen’s Patio Eggs and reed diffusers utilize bug-deterring essential oils to repel mosquitoes over a space of about 200 square feet.
- Adults and older children can apply undiluted vanilla essential oil to pulse points (wrists, neck, ankles) to repel mosquitoes with a pleasant smell.
- A homemade repellent can be made using a low (2-4 percent) dilution of essential oils such as eucalyptus and/or lemon eucalyptus with a base, such as jojoba, or almond oil mixed in a spray bottle. This can be applied to children over the age of two and is safe for pregnant women. Spray only on children’s clothes away from their eyes, like the backs of shirts and shorts and on socks and shoes.
- Cinnamon and peppermint are also effective in warding off mosquitoes. Cinnamon can burn, so it is not advised to use with small children.
- Look for safer repellent sprays available for purchase that contain P-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD). PMD is the active ingredient in oil of lemon eucalyptus and is in the most widely-used Chinese insect repellent, quwenling. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Lotion and Spray Lotion, Survivor Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent, Off! Botanical Insect Repellent are good choices. However, PMD is roughly half as effective as DEET, so reapply as necessary.
- Repellents that contain picaridin, a plant-derived compound, have an excellent tolerability profile, in contrast to DEET. Picaridin is odorless, non-sticky, and non-greasy; it also does not irritate skin, stain fabrics, or degrade plastics. Look for Sawyer Insect Repellent, Cutter Advanced, and Cutter Advanced Sport.
The risks and benefits DEET, Duet and other pesticides will likely be debated for some time. In the meantime, at least for Dallas residents, the aerial spraying continues. Have further questions? Schedule an appointment to set up a cleanse to optimize your detoxification system so that your body can best eliminate DEET and other environmental toxins. As Alejandro Junger MD so beautifully explains, “cleansing is turning up the intensity and effectiveness of the detoxification system.”
written by Kate Naumes ND and Andrea Kavanaugh