Study: Insect Repellent DEET Neurotoxic

August 5, 2009

(ChattahBox)—DEET, the active ingredient in many insect repellents, is toxic to our central nervous system and two French researchers are sounding the alarm to warn the public of its danger and are calling for the development of safer alternatives.

Lead scientists, Vincent Corbel from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in Montpellier, and Bruno Lapied from the University of Angers, France, led a team of researchers to investigate the toxicity of the chemical DEET or (N, N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) in a study on rodents.

“We’ve found that DEET is not simply a behavior-modifying chemical, but also inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetycholinesterase, in both insects and mammals,” said Corbel. The researchers also found that when used in combination with other insecticides, such as organophosphate and carbamate insecticides, the toxicity of DEET increases.

The researchers discovered that DEET works to repel pesky insects, particularly mosquitoes, by inhibiting the acetylcholinesterase enzyme, which affects our central nervous system at the molecular level.

The insecticides, organophosphate and carbamate insecticides work in the same way, leading the researchers to fear the production of dangerous levels of toxicity when DEET is used together with other insecticides.

The US Environmental Protection Agency plans to consider the study in its future review of Deet planned for 2012. However, the EPA cautioned people not to panic saying, “The information we have related to DEET has been determined to be adequate to show that DEET does not pose any unreasonable risk.”

The study is available in the journal BMC Biology.

Source


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