DEET Mosquito Repellents Linked to Brain Damage

DEET, or diethyl-meta-toluamide, by any other name still stinks.  The main ingredient in most commercial mosquito repellents has been linked by Duke University researchers to brain cell damage, harmful interactions with some medications, and behavioural changes.  The lead researcher and pharmacologist on the study observed brain cell death and behavioural changes in animals exposed to DEET after frequent and prolonged use.

Another study showed that up to fifteen percent of DEET is directly absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream.  Considering the toxic effects of diethyl-meta-toluamide listed in material safety data sheets, which include:  reproductive disturbances, genetic material mutations, and central nervous system disorders, that’s a scary amount.

Mohamed Abou-Donia, PhD, has been researching the effects of chemicals on the brains of rats for over 30 years.  He’s discovered, in two separate studies, that the frequent and prolonged applications of DEET cause neurons to die in regions of the brain that control muscle movement, learning, memory, and concentration.  He also found that rats treated with a comparable human dose of DEET (40mg/kg of body weight) performed far worse than control rats when challenged with physical tasks required muscle control, strength, and coordination.  The animals in his studies experienced physical symptoms consistent with those experienced by Persian Gulf War veterans, according to Abou-Donia.

Even U.S. Evironmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicologist Michael Watson has reported an instance “where exposure to DEET caused six cases of brain damage in girls aged one through six – and three of them died.”

If you’re spraying yourself or your family members with DEET-based mosquito repellents, it’s time to reconsider.

Check out my article 6 Ways to Beat Mosquitoes Naturally.


William C
William Cabout a year ago

Not surprising, thank you.

W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Disturbing, thanks for the information.

Dale O.

Interesting. Never use the stuff!

Michele Wilkinson

Thak you

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton6 years ago

I used Deet once, whilst on holiday in the Dom Rep; it brought me up in such a bad rash that I never used it again - very glad now that I stopped!

Abbe A.
Azaima A6 years ago

DEET messes up the varnish on your guitar if you play wearing repellent.

Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Linda G.
Linda G.6 years ago

I was always using DEED while working outside on my garden or walking in the woods for I love the outdoors. A few years ago I was informed I have brain tumor, now I am wondering? mmmm?

Christin Shives
Christin Shives6 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.