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Insect repellent toolkit

EPA-Registered Repellent Ingredients

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly suggests using insect repellents with ingredients registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA must register most skin-applied repellents before they can be sold. This means that the active ingredients in the repellents have been "evaluated and approved for human safety and effectiveness when applied according to instructions on the label" (EPA, 2017). The EPA evaluation also means the product is not harmful to sensitive groups, including children and pregnant women.

Safe-For-skinSafe-For-kidsSafe-for-Preg-Women

EPA-registered repellents containing one of the following active ingredients are safe to use and work best to protect against mosquito and tick bites when used according to label directions:

DEET (chemical name: N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is a common, synthetic active ingredient found in many insect repellents.  

Here's what you need to know about DEET:

    • Apply directly to skin
    • Safe for use on pregnant women and children over 2 months
    • Products containing 20-30% DEET work best to prevent mosquito and tick bites and typically provide protection for many hours
    • Products with very high amounts of DEET (over 50%) will not work any better or longer to protect you

 Picaridin (KBR 3023) is a synthetic active ingredient similar to the natural compound piperine, which comes from black pepper.

Here's what you need to know about picaridin:back-label-EPA-No

    • Apply directly to skin
    • Little odor
    • Safe for use on pregnant women and children over 2 months

IR3535 (chemical name: 3-[N-Butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester) is a synthetic active ingredient similar to a naturally-occurring amino acid (PDF).

Here's what you need to know about IR3535:

    • Apply directly to skin
    • Safe for use on pregnant women and children over 2 months
    • Has been used widely in Europe

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) (chemical name: p-Menthane-3,8-diol) is a naturally derived active ingredient from the lemon eucalyptus plant. OLE is NOT the same as pure, essential oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is not recommended for use as repellent.

Here's what you need to know about OLE:

    • Not for use on children under 3 years
    • Apply directly to skin

    • Safe for pregnant women and children over 3 years

Para-menthane-diol (PMD) (chemical name: p-Menthane-3,8-diol) is the synthetic version of oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Here's what you need to know about para-menthane-diol:

    • Not for use on children under 3 years
    • Apply directly to skin

    • Safe for pregnant women and children over 3 years

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