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Safest Bug Sprays for Your Kids: Protect Against West Nile and More

When purchasing insect repellent, look for the one of the following ingredients:

DEET (Chemical Name: N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide or N,N-diethly-3-methyl-benzamide)

Pros:

  • Considered by the EPA as the most effective, broad-spectrum repellent against mosquitoes and ticks.
  • Concentrations of 10 to 30 percent are approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as safe for children over two months of age when used according to the directions on the label.
  • Long lasting. Higher concentrations can last up to 8 hours.
Cons:
  • "Conventional" repellent. Not derived from natural ingredients.
  • Chemical can be toxic when absorbed by the skin at concentrations higher than 50 percent.
  • Odor may be unpleasant to some.
  • Can damage some synthetic and plastic materials.

Picaridin (Chemical Name: 2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperidinecarboxylic acid 1-methylpropyl ester)

Pros:

  • Offers similar protection to that of DEET, according to the EPA.
  • Long lasting. Higher concentrations can last up to 8 hours.
  • Odor isn't as strong as products containing DEET.
  • Causes no adverse effects on plastic and synthetic materials.
Cons:
  • "Conventional" repellent. Not derived from natural ingredients.
  • Not labeled for use against ticks.

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD, which is the synthesized version of oil of eucalyptus.

Pros:

  • "Biopesticide" derived from natural ingredients.
  • Long lasting. Some products protect for up to 6 hours.
Cons:
  • Should not be used on children under 3 years of age.
  • Some products may not protect against ticks.

IR3535 (Chemical Name: 3-[N-Butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester)

Pros:

  • "Biopesticide" derived from natural ingredients.
Cons:
  • Strong eye irritant. Label recommends adults apply spray to children under 10 years of age.
  • Low protection time ranging from 0 to 3 hours.


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