USA and EU Views

The USA and EU Views

The USA View

Products containing DEET are currently available to the public in a variety of liquids, lotions, sprays, and impregnated materials (e.g., towelettes, roll on). Formulations registered for direct application to human skin can contain from 5 to 99% DEET. Except for a few veterinary uses, DEET is registered for use by consumers, and it is not used on food.

Approximately 120 products containing DEET are currently registered with the EPA by about 30 different companies.

Some DEET products in the USA are 95% DEET and others are as low as 5%. The reason for such a wide spectrum is nothing to do with the efficiency of DEET to repel the mosquitos and ticks, but it is a question of how long the repellent effect lasts. In fact, it is generally accepted that above a 50% dilution no additional benefit is accrued.

The EU View

There have been significant changes in the European market due to the EU Biocidal Products Regulations 528/2012 (BPR).

A “biocide” is any substance that repels, attracts or kills any living organism. DEET obviously falls within this definition

The BPR was introduced to unify the process by which biocides are authorised across the EU, taking this responsibility away from national regulators who had varying standards and methods for determining product safety. The BPR have also been put in place to provide a level of standardisation across countries in the EU.

DEET is a very commonly used repellent and is one of the world’s most popular anti-mosquito products, which has a very good effect on interfering with the receptors of a mosquito and stops them biting.

As a biocide, DEET is now regulated under the BPR to ensure consistent product safety across the EU. DEET is one of the first products to be regulated, and in the next 10-15 years any product that repels, attracts or kills any living organism will come under these regulations.

During the initial screening stage, a number of products were removed from the European market including Citronella and Neem oil. Only DEET, Saltidin® (Icaridin) and Citriodiol™ were accepted. The approval process for the latter two will start shortly.

As part of the regulatory process 100% DEET products have now been withdrawn throughout the European market and will no longer be available. DEET repellents over 50% in strength have not be legal for sale in the EU since 2016.

The reason for this reduction in strength is that there have been some health concerns, particularly focused around the absorption of DEET into the skin and the affects it may have.

The European Chemicals Agency has taken a very conservative view about DEET. As an example, in the USA 100% DEET is readily available.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is using the following generic statement: ‘Use mosquito repellent in accordance with the instructions indicated on the product label’ and does not recommend the use of repellents containing DEET in concentrations of 20% or more for protection.

The emphasis in these comments has been on DEET and only passing reference has been made to the other products. This is because DEET is the best-known product and the one around which the uncertainty about safety revolves.

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The USA and EU Views

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