Daily News Archive
From April 30, 2002

Health Canada to Ban Some DEET Products
(from April 30, 2002)

Health Canada has quietly decided to ban insect repellents with more than 30% of the active ingredient DEET, citing health risks and evidence that pumping up the amount of active ingredient does little more to repel bugs, according to an article in the Canadian National Post. Products mixing sunscreen and insect repellent will also be barred because of the potential to absorb too much DEET while lathering on the lotion.

Retailers can continue selling some of the over-30% products until December 2004, in order for manufacturers to deplete their existing stocks.

U.S. scientist Mohammed Abou-Donia, who found symptoms of neurological damage in soldiers who used small doses of DEET daily for two months, applauded the decision. "There are hundreds of papers in the literature saying there are problems with this chemical…I totally agree with having the lower concentration of the chemical," said Dr. Abou-Donia, a pharmacology professor at Duke University.

He also stated that problems arise when people - usually soldiers or those working outdoors in mosquito-infested areas - slap it on daily for long periods. His studies additionally found problems when DEET is mixed with other chemicals.

Studies on U.S. soldiers and park wardens using DEET regularly found evidence of such skin reactions as large, painful blisters, rashes and a numb sensation on the lips. Employees at a park in Florida using DEET heavily were more likely to have insomnia, mood disturbances, and impaired cognitive functions. Researchers have also recorded several instances of brain problems in children, with the most severe cases involving seizures, coma and death.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently decided not to tighten regulations regarding DEET.

For more information, see: http://www.nationalpost.com/search/story.html?f=/stories/20020423/4038.html&qs=pesticides.