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(For a list of other stores selling Buzz Off and their addresses, click here)

REI Customer Service Department
PO Box 1700
Sumner, Washington 98352
Email to: [email protected]

RE: Buzz Off Insect Shield Insect Repellent Clothing

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing today to voice my concern over a product being sold at REI stores. As a store that promotes healthy outdoor living and a love of nature, it is contradictory for REI to carry Buzz Off™ Insect Shield Insect Repellent clothing, which are impregnated with the pesticide permethrin. Selling these clothes poses a risk to both the consumer and the environment.

Buzz Off™'s label does not adequately display the dangers of permethrin, and does not caution enough against improper uses. Many people who buy Buzz Off™ from REI will probably use it while on camping or fishing trips, where they are likely to wash the clothes in streams. This is problematic because small doses of permethrin are highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Although the label says that the clothes should not be disposed of in water, it does not warn against washing the clothes in bodies of water.

A second problem is that research has some of the permethrin will come off onto the wearer's skin, and be absorbed into their bloodstream. There are serious long-term health problems associated with permethrin. According to the EPA, permethrin is a possible carcinogen and a suspected endocrine disruptor (endocrine disruptors interfere with hormone function and can contribute to breast and testicular cancer, birth defects, learning problems, and other problems). Dermal absorption of permethrin can also cause immunotoxicity, especially in the presence of sunlight. The label never warns against prolonged exposure to the clothes.

Another problem is that the label states, "For protection of exposed skin, use in conjunction with an insect repellent registered for direct application to skin." One of the most common insect repellents used on skin is DEET. REI makes it easy to use both together-they are both sold in the stores. But use of DEET in combination with permethrin has been linked to Gulf War Syndrome, which affects thousands of veterans. Symptoms include headaches, memory loss, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain. Researchers at Duke University have found that combined exposure to DEET and permethrin can cause serious neurological damage.

The label for Buzz Off™ clothing is clearly inadequate as it fails to warn about the risks to health or the environment. Moreover, REI also carries a line of Buzz Off™'s children's clothing. Pesticides are more toxic to children than to adults because children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults, and they have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable. Marketing these clothes towards children without adequately warning of the dangers is irresponsible.

REI is a store that I respect for its promotion of healthy outdoor living, environmental conservation, and community service. I strongly urge REI to stop selling Buzz Off™ clothing, as it potentially harmful to both consumers and the environment.


[your name here]
[address, city, state, zip]

701 E Street SE #200, Washington DC 20003 . phone 202-543-5450 . fax 202-543-4791 . [email protected]