From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Published October 22, 2009 04:10 PM

Are you repelled by insect repellents?

Many people are concerned about what might be in the insect repellants they apply to their skin or clothing. To repel some mosquitoes, ticks, or other pests, we risk exposure to toxic chemicals with potential health effects.

Not to worry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a new Web page containing product information on certain skin-applied insect repellents. EPA’s goal is to provide the public with information on registered insect repellents and their effectiveness claims in a clear, consistent, and user-friendly format.

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"EPA's release of information on the effectiveness of insect repellents will help American consumers select the right product for their needs and protect themselves and their children from potentially devastating diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease," said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "This Web-based dissemination of information supports Administrator Jackson’s goals of transparency and public access and protecting children’s health."

The new Web page contains two tables listing insect repellent products that are registered by the agency: those that control mosquitoes and ticks, and those that only control mosquitoes. The Web page compiles publicly available information on protection times based on product effectiveness data reviewed by EPA, and presents it in a format that makes it easy for consumers to make informed risk management decisions to protect their health and that of their families and children. The Web page also contains information on vector-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease, and the importance of personal protection measures.

To make the most informed risk reduction and health protection decision, look for EPA-registered products that provide protection time information on the product label. Key points to remember when selecting an insect repellent include:

  • Insects from which you want protection
  • Length of time you need protection
  • Active ingredient listed on the product label
  • Percentage active ingredient as listed on the product label

For protection over an extended period of time, be sure to use a product with a protection time that fits your level and duration of activity. Keep in mind when using an insect repellent product that the length of time you are protected from mosquito and tick bites can vary depending on a number of factors:

  • Physical activity/perspiration
  • Water exposure and other factors
  • Air temperature
  • Application according to label directions

Consider non-chemical ways to deter biting insects. Use structural barriers such as window screens or netting, or wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and socks.

For more information and a link to the new web site: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/mosquitoes/insectrp.htm

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