In brief: Mosquito repellents: Going DEET-free

In brief

Mosquito repellents: Going DEET-free

Keeping mosquitoes away is a matter of comfort. Nothing wrong with that. But in recent years, American public health officials have started taking repellents seriously as a matter of disease prevention because of mosquito-borne West Nile virus. The only ingredient that has gotten the government's full-fledged endorsement has been the chemical DEET.

But DEET lost its monopoly in spring 2005 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that research has shown that two other repellent ingredients, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, are also effective.

Picaridin, a derivative of piperidine, a chemical related to black pepper, has been used in Europe since the late 1990s. In this country, Cutter Advanced was the first picaridin product to hit the market. Oil of lemon eucalyptus, also known as p-menthane-3,8-diol, has also been used as a repellent elsewhere. The repellents in the United States that contain it include Repel Lemon Eucalyptus and Off! Botanicals.

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