Exposure of Children to Deet and Other Topically Applied Insect Repellents

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BackgroundUse of topical repellents on children is common. Anecdotal reports suggest repellents may be applied inappropriately, but no studies characterizing the actual usage patterns and exposure of children have been reported.MethodsIn the summer of 2002, a cross-sectional survey on the use patterns of repellents on children and possible associated effects was conducted in Maryland campgrounds. Information requested included products used, details of applications, post-application practices, and parents' decision-making process.ResultsThe study yielded 301 respondents. Deet was the most commonly used active ingredient (83.4%); aerosols were the most common formulation (42.5%). Over a third of subjects (38.9%) treated their children's clothing as well as their skin. Over half of the children did not remove the repellent before going to bed. More than a third of parents failed to read or follow label directions.ConclusionsThis study provides documentation of practices leading to undesirable exposure. Educational outreach to change parents' usage patterns is indicated. Am. J. Ind. Med. 47:91–97, 2005. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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