What the DEET? Part III: Additional Info and Proper Disposal

Additional Recommendations: Regarding DEET Use On Children and Proper DEET Disposal

DEET Use On Children

I came across some new information on DEET and children today.

According to a 2003 newsletter by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada, DEET should absolutely not be applied to children under 6 months of age, ever. This was not a new recommendation, even in 2003. Furthermore, in children ages 6 months to two years in situations where the risk of complications from insect bites is high (and only in this case) parents may apply a single application of the lowest concentration of DEET (10 percent or lower). In these cases, DEET should never be applied to the hands or face.

With children ages 2-12, Health Canada and the Canadian Pediatric Society go on the advise, apply a concentration of 10 percent of less, avoid the face and hands, and avoid prolonged exposure.

Additionally, thanks to research of daily DEET use on adults over a long period of time, Health Canada no longer accepts for registration solutions of over 30 percent DEET.

This is very different information and stricter advice than what the CDC and EPA tell Americans, and confirms my conclusion that DEET should not be used on children. In fact, since unborn and born children are more susceptible to chemical harm, and adult skin absorbs 60-80 percent of that which it comes in contact through air and applied substances, many sources recommend not using DEET at all since it’s a known safety hazard and safer alternatives including two CDC-approved and all-natural options. Even Health Canada notes nonchemical methods to repell mosquitoes exist.

See my article about DEET use on adults and children for more information.

Additionally, Health Canada endorses additional natural repellents that the CDC including soybean oil and citronella with lavender.

DEET Disposal: What do I do with all these Skintastic bottles?

If you choose to stop using DEET you first have to make an important decision: Do I give my DEET-containing repellents to my friends?

In one case they would appreciate free insect repellent. On the other, if I’m not willing to use DEET why would I wish its effects on my friends?

Giving DEET Bottles Away

I seriously considered disposing of my bottles of DEET, but I decided to give them away. No, I do not want my family and friends using DEET, and even though I know they’ll buy it anyway I don’t want to give harmful chemicals to them, either.

I recently had to make this same decision with paraben and other problematic substance-containing lipstick and hair products I decided to replace. What I did: I directly told the recipients that I had free, partially used products that contained parabens, substances that mimic hormones and are likely endocrine disruptors. If the recipient is okay with this they can have the product for free.

Disposing of DEET-Containing Products

Did you know non-aerosol DEET repellents can go straight into your regular household garbage? They can, according to Health Canada. If you want to recycle the bottle empty the liquid in an absorbent disposable material such as kitty litter and place in your regular trash. Never reuse a bottle which contained DEET. 

Aerosol cans, on the other hand, should never be put in regular garbage as pressurized cans can explode if a fire breaks out, according to Earth911.com, harming workers and firefighters. Take empty cans to a steel recycling facility or, if accepted, put in your curbside bin.

For filled or partially filled aerosol spray cans, first contact your local recycling facility to determine if they have a way to safely drain cans. If they do not, contact your nearest hazardous waste facility. Do not drain cans into the air as the fine mist produced by aerosol cans easily spread can propellants and other hazardous chemicals into your environment.

Discussion Questions:

As one deletes harmful and potentially harmful chemicals from the home, is it right to give these products to friends?

Related Articles:

What the DEET? Safely Repelling Mosquitoes (Part I)

What the DEET? Natural Alternatives That Work : Safely Repelling Mosquitoes (Part II)

2 responses to this post.

  1. […] What the DEET? Part III: Additional Info and Proper Disposal « The … […]


  2. I have struggled with this question as well, and considered your approach. In the end, I decided to learn how best to dispose of the products safely and repurpose/recycle the containers. It’s a tricky matter with no win-win solution, IMO.


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