DEET is short for N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide a chemical developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 to help protect soldiers operating within insect infested areas. DEET is an effective non-organic insect repellent that has been used by millions of people for over 6 decades. However, it does have a number of undesirable attributes including its unpleasant odor and ability to severely damage many plastic products. Additionally, there is a growing body of data that suggests DEET may pose health risks. DEET is absorbed when applied to the skin. Studies show that up to 56% of DEET is absorbed by intact skin and 17% is absorbed into the blood stream. Studies suggest that DEET may have toxic effects on the central nervous system. Studies at Duke University showed that lab animals exposed to doses of DEET equivalent to those recommended for human use resulted in significant impairment of neuro-behavioral tasks requiring muscle coordination.
Other studies suggest exposure to DEET can lead to motor deficits, learning and memory dysfunction. These findings are consistent with reported human toxicity that includes seizures and serious gastrointestinal symptoms. Due to safety concerns Health Canada has banned products with DEET concentrations over 30%. Additionally, there is growing concern about the environmental impacts of DEET. DEET is not readily broken down and can persist in the environment for extended periods of time. Due to the extensive use of DEET containing products it is one of the most common chemical contaminants found in domestic water supplies. The growing body of scientific data suggests DEET may present a potentially significant health and environmental risk. Deter’s natural botanical formula is completely DEET free.