United States
               Environmental Protection
Prevention, Pesticides
And Toxic Substances
February 1996
              FOR   YOUR    INFORMATION
               Using  Insect Repellents  Safely
Mosquitoes, biting flies, and ticks can be annoying and sometimes pose a serious risk to public
health. In certain areas of the U.S., mosquitoes can transmit diseases like equine and St. Louis
encephalitis. Biting flies can inflict a painful bite that can persist for days, swell, and become
infected. Ticks can transmit serious diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted
fever. When properly used, insect repellents can discourage biting insects from landing on
treated skin or clothing. *

Choosing Insect Repellents

Insect repellents are available in various forms and concentrations. Aerosol and pump-spray
products are intended for  skin applications as well as for treating clothing.  Liquid, cream, lotion
and stick products enable  direct skin application. Products with a low concentration of active
ingredient may be appropriate for situations where exposure to insects is minimal. Higher
concentration of active ingredient may be useful in highly infested areas, or with insect species
which are more difficult to repel. And where appropriate, consider nonchemical ways to deter
biting insects—screens, netting, long sleeves, and slacks.

Using Insect Repellents Safely

EPA recommends the following precautions when using insect repellents:

>•      Repellents should be applied only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the  .
       product label). Do not use under  clothing.
>•      Never use repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
>•      Don't apply to eyes and mouth and, with young children, do not apply to their hands.
K      Avoid breathing a repellent spray, and do not use it near food.
*      Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Heavy application and
       saturation is unnecessary for effectiveness; if biting insects do not  respond to a thin film
       of repellent, apply a bit more.
>      After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe. This is
       particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or on consecutive
*•      If you suspect that you or your child are reacting to an insect repellent, wash treated
       skin and then call your local poison control center. If/when you go to a doctor, take the
       repellent with you.
>      You or your doctor can get specific medical information about the active  ingredients in
       repellents and other pesticides by calling the National Pesticide Telecommunications
       Network (NPTN) at 1-800-858-7378. NPTN operates from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
       (Pacific  Time) 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

                                          General Note

      EPA recommends the following precautions when, using an insect repellent or pesticide:

      *       Checfc the con'tainer to  ensure that the product bears an EPA  approved label and
              registration number. Never use a product that has not been approved for use by EPA!
      »•       Read  the entire label before using  a pesticide. Even if you have used it before,
              read the label  again.—don't trust your memory.
      *       Follow use directions carefully, use only the-amount directed, at the time and under the
              conditions specified, and for the  purpose listed. For example,  if you  need a tick
              repellent* make sure that the product label lists this use.  If ticks are  not listed, the
              product may not be formulated for this use.
      >-       Store pesticides away from children's reach, in a locked utility cabinet or garden shed.
Avoiding Ticks and Lyme Disease

Lyme disease has become the leading tick-borne illness in the U.S. In 1992, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention recorded 9,677 cases. The deer tick is the species that most often transmits
Lyme disease. With proper precautions, Lyme disease is preventable.

•       Deer ticks are most active from April through October, so exercise additional caution when
        venturing into tick country.
•       When in a tick-infested area, a good prevention is an insect repellent; however, consider using
        a product designed to be applied to clothing rather than your skin.
•       Tuck pants cuffs into boots or socks, and wear long sleeves and light-colored clothing which
        makes it easier to spot ticks.
•       Stay to the center of hiking paths, and avoid grassy  and marshy woodland areas.
•       Inspect yourself and your children for clinging ticks after leaving an infested area. Deer ticks
        are hard to see—nymphs are dot-sized; adults, smaller than a sesame seed. If you discover a
        tick feeding, do not panic:  studies indicate that an infected tick does not usually transmit the
        Lyme organism during the first 24 hours.
•       If you suspect Lyme disease or its symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

        IN CASE OF  AN EMERGENCY, first determine what the person was exposed to and
what part of the body was  affected before you take action, since taking the right action is as
important as taking immediate action. If the person is unconscious, having trouble breathing, or
having convulsions, give the indicated first aid immediately. Call 911 or your local emergency   ,
service. If these symptoms are not noticeable, contact your local Poison Control Center, physician,
911 or your local emergency service and follow their directions. The following are general first aid

  •     Poison in eye. Eye membranes absorb pesticides faster than any other external part of the
        body.  Eye damage can  occur in a few minutes with some types of pesticides. If poison
        splashes into an eye, hold the eyelid open and wash  quickly and gently with clean running
        water from the  tap or a gentle stream from a hose for at least 15 minutes. If possible, have
        someone contact a Poison Control Center while the victim is being treated. Do not use eye
        drops, chemicals, or drugs La the wash water.
  •     Poison on skin. If pesticide splashes on the  skin, drench area with water and remove
        contaminated clodiing. Wash skin and hair thoroughly with soap and water. Later discard
        contaminated clothing or thoroughly wash it separately from other laundry.
  •     Inhaled poison. Carry or drag victim to fresh air immediately. If proper protection is
        unavailable, call the Fire Department. Loosen victim's tight clothing. Open doors  and windows
        to prevent fumes from poisoning others.
  •     Swallowed poison. Induce vomiting ONLY if the emergency personnel on the phone tell you
        to do so. It will depend on what the victim has swallowed; some petroleum products, or
        caustic poisons can cause serious damage if vomited. Always keep  Syrup of Ipecac on hand
        (1 bottle per household). Be sure die date is current and keep it out of children's reach.