Scientists are concerned about the safety of mosquito repellents containing DEET (Diethyl-meta-toluamide) that are widely used in summer to get rid of annoying insects. The famous repellent DEET blocks the action of the enzyme which regulates the transmission of nerve impulse. Such conclusion was made by French scientists from the University of Angers and the Institute of Research and Development in Montpellier after conducting series of experiments on nerve cells of insects and mammals.
Starting from 1957, repellents containing DEET became widely used around the world. Every year over 200 million people use them. It is considered, that DEET acts to block insect olfactory receptors thus blocking the bug’s ability to detect the victim by smell. However, French scientists proved that DEET’s action on the insect’s and mammal’s nerve system can be dangerous as well. For instance, it can lead to prolonged muscle spasms.
Only 46 instances of DEET-related muscle spasms were recorded in the USA over the last couple of decades, while four of them were lethal. However, French scientists believe that the repellent’s toxic action can substantially increase upon the interaction with pesticides. However, the authors of the study, which was published in journal BioMed Central Biology, acknowledge that the received data require further verification.
Source of the image: flickr.com/photos/jamesjorda.