Popular Bug Repellent Deet Harms Nervous System

Here’s a stern warning for all those moms hosing down their kids with bug spray at the cookout. Published in the journal BMC Biology, scientists have determined deet—a common chemical used in insect repellents—is neurotoxic and harms the brain.

The active ingredient in many insect repellents, deet, has been found to be toxic to the central nervous system. Researchers say that more investigations are urgently needed to confirm or dismiss any potential neurotoxicity to humans, especially when deet-based repellents are used in combination with other neurotoxic insecticides.

Vincent Corbel from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in Montpellier, and Bruno Lapied from the University of Angers, France, led a team of researchers who investigated the mode of action and toxicity of deet (N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). Corbel said, "We've found that deet is not simply a behavior-modifying chemical but also inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetycholinesterase, in both insects and mammals".

Not exactly comforting news for little campers and hikers! That’s why Dr. Fuhrman says parents must be vigilant to protect their children from toxic environments—not just pesky mosquitoes.

Via ScienceDaily.

Image credit: mr_tentacle

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Luke Radl - August 7, 2009 8:11 AM

Oh my goodness, a science article that links the paper! Massive kudos for that.

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