The Truth About DEET

Today’s news carries yet another announcement from an ‘official’ source discussing diseases carried by mosquitoes. Like many other public service announcements, the article states that to prevent mosquito-borne diseases, use mosquito repellents with DEET. It even says that it is safe to use DEET on children aged 2 months and older!


The damaging effects of DEET are not hidden industry secrets. DEET is well documented to cause a host of problems and evidence is prevalent. According to the National Institutes of Health, “By far, the most serious and devastating complication of DEET poisonings is neurological damage. Patients may have disorientation, clumsiness when walking, seizures, or coma. Death is possible in these cases. DEET is especially dangerous for small children.”

So why are ‘experts’ in charge of protecting the public giving bad advice? The answer is complex but has varying degrees of the following reasons:

A) Manufacturers of DEET products (large chemical corporations) have deep advertising budgets and consistently tout the safety and effectiveness of their products – to the extent of saying DEET is the only solution to repel mosquitoes. Consistent messages become the truth – even though they are false.

B) Those in positions to steer the public (so called ‘experts’) do a little research and find some other ‘expert’ who has stated that DEET is the solution so therefore it must be so. Using ‘facts’ from another is commonplace so if Municipality X says DEET is okay then School District Y will repeat that as true. And that brings us back to…

C) Which is really A) because it stems from the deep pockets of the chemical manufacturers who spew these ‘truths’ that DEET is safe.

Even the pediatricians have been hoodwinked as the ONLY pest control ingredient listed on their national organization website is DEET. Granted, they say do not use concentrations of DEET over 30%, to use caution when applying and to wash with soap and water when returning indoors. But the only discussion to repel pests encourages the use of DEET.

A long term study by the US military concluded that Gulf War Illness is directly linked to chemical exposure and identified the repeated use of pesticides containing DEET as a causal factor. So one arm of government (the military) says DEET is dangerous and then another arm of government (the EPA) clears the path for widespread use.

DEET is NOT safe and do not drink the kool-aid that it is. Just because you’ve seen it in print, read in online, heard it on TV, and been told by your doctor… The repeated and regurgitated ‘truth’ that DEET is safe is patently false.

There are MANY safe solutions other than DEET. And contrary to what big chemical companies want you to know, there are very effective and safe natural solutions.