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Consumer Reports: Insect Repellents

Mosquito_2007-2Yonkers, NJ. — Consumer Reports has some important advice on how to avoid bug bites and at the same time limit exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals in insect repellents.
After testing repellents with DEET and plant-based ones without DEET, Consumer Reports Tester Sue Byrne says “We think that DEET is really an insect repellent that you should use as a last  resort. And you should certainly not use it in any concentration of more than 30 percent.”
Consumer Reports tests show 30 percent DEET works very well, so products, such as Jungle Juice 100, with nearly 100 percent DEET aren’t necessary.
And with DEET exposure there are possible side effects, like skin blisters,  slurred speech, and even seizures or coma.
Also avoid devices that clip on and use a fan to circulate repellent around you. Products like Off Clip-on contain the active ingredient metofluthrin, which Consumer Reports says can pose risks to your nervous system. And their tests, one several years ago, found it doesn’t work very well anyway.
Consumer Reports says instead consider using repellents that contain no DEET,  like Repel’s Lemon Eucalyptus or products with picaridin, which is similar to a compound in black pepper.
One caution on repellents using eucalyptus: The Centers for Disease Control says not to use them on children younger than three.
This report is based on articles in the current June 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, pages 14-15; Consumer Reports on Health, page 10; and Consumer Reports ShopSmart, pages 51-52.