July 13, 2006
- Day 2 - Week 15 - Insect Repellent – What is that
How can one get sick by
spending time in the great outdoors, and I am not
talking about air pollution. I knew from my
experience in India in 1963 that I could get malaria
from mosquitoes, and I did, but cancer from camping
in the great outdoors?
I had never given much thought
to mosquito repellent until I ventured to Costa Rica
in the 1990’s with an Earth Watch Expedition Team.
I was the designated photographer, and a relative
novice about how big mosquitoes can grow. However,
nothing in that tiny country can compare with the
mosquitos in Alaska which can grow to the size of a
small airplane. This tiny insect drives us crazy,
especially in the dark of night when they become
like the invisible stealth bomber and buzz us
incessantly. Now we worry about the west Nile virus
that is being borne by this troublesome insect, but
the cure may be worse than the disease.
Insect repellent, specifically
products with high concentrations of DEET are
designed to ward off the mosquito, but the
unintended consequence may be the threat to our
health. DEET is registered as a pesticide by the
EPA. Health problems as varied as dizziness, rashes,
spasms and seizures have been directly associated
with the use of insect repellent.
DEET actually penetrates the
skin when applied directly. Because of this the
consequences have prompted the American Academy of
Pediatrics advises using repellents containing DEET
on children under the age of 6. Adults are advised
to apply any repellent containing any amount of DEET
to the clothing rather than the bare skin.
To this day, and as recently as
a few weeks ago, I applied 100% DEET repellent to
the hat I wore on the Missouri River canoe trip.
That was before I read what informed this little
daily thought. Good bye insect repellent with any
DEET at all and hello alternatives.
The next choice was to be
Cutter Advanced Sport containing picardin, whatever
that is. Turn over the aerosol bottle and you read:
STORAGE AND DISPOSAL – Pesticide storage; and then
you read further; Hazards to human and domestic
animals. What makes me angry is that the front of
the product boldly proclaims: NEW! With Picardin.
It is now the middle of the
summer when our time in the great outdoors is
cherished and we dodge the mosquitoes, especially at
dusk, in many parts of our country. However, it is
time to re-think our use of products that have
become commonplace in our lives, for their use may
have a cumulative negative effect on our health.
Mosquito's have always loved
me, even though I do not reciprocate or share that
feeling, but my old solutions for dealing with them
are a thing of the past. Goodbye picardin, even
though you are new, and definitely goodbye to DEET;
and hello to Natrapel with the active ingredient
Once again we have to be our
own best friend when it comes to deciding what is
right for us and our children; especially when it
comes to discernment – the power of discernment
today is that it can protect us and guide us to make
better choices. Who ever thought about insect
repellent before? Having cancer means every label
is read with a discerning eye.
Back to Week 15