Why Is DEET Banned in Europe 2020: Unveiling the Truth

Europe has long been known for it’s stringent regulations on consumer products, particularly those that may pose potential risks to human health and the environment. In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind the ban, explore the potential risks associated with DEET, and uncover the truth about it’s current status in Europe. By shedding light on this contentious issue, we hope to provide a comprehensive understanding of the decision to ban DEET and it’s implications for public health and the environment.

Why Was DEET Outlawed?

Why was DEET outlawed? In the DEET Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) in 1998, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported 14 to 46 cases of potential DEET-associated seizures, including four deaths. These alarming figures raised concerns about the safety and potential risks associated with DEET, leading to a closer examination of it’s usage and regulations. In Europe, the use of DEET has been tightly regulated and, in some cases, banned due to these safety concerns.

Europe has taken a stringent approach towards the use of DEET in order to protect public health and ensure the safety of it’s citizens. The European Unions regulations on biocidal products, which includes insect repellents like DEET, place a strong emphasis on risk assessment and potential adverse effects. The extensive research conducted on DEETs safety profile by European authorities has identified certain risks, particularly in relation to neurological effects.

Furthermore, Europe has also taken into consideration alternative, safer alternatives to DEET, such as picaridin or citronella, which have been shown to be effective in repelling mosquitoes and other insects. These alternatives don’t carry the same level of safety concerns as DEET, making them more favorable options for use in the European market.

Moreover, DEET has been found to have negative effects on the nervous system. Studies have shown that it can cause headaches, dizziness, and even seizures, particularly in individuals with pre-existing conditions. This has raised concerns about the safety of using DEET-based insect repellents, prompting many to seek alternatives that are less harmful to human health.

Why Is DEET So Harmful?

DEET, which stands for N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, is a widely used chemical compound found in many insect repellents. While it effectively repels mosquitoes and other insects, the concerns surrounding it’s potential harm can’t be overlooked. Bodies, by nature, can react negatively to chemicals, and DEET is no exception. Many individuals have reported experiencing rashes or irritated skin after using products containing DEET, making it unsuitable for those with sensitive or easily irritated skin.

One of the most concerning effects of DEET is it’s potential to irritate the eyes. This is particularly worrisome as accidental exposure to the eyes can be painful and may require medical attention in severe cases. It’s therefore advised to be cautious when applying DEET-based products, especially around the facial area.

In more extreme cases, there have been rare reports of seizures associated with DEET usage. While the occurrence of seizures is extremely low, it’s a serious concern that can’t be disregarded. The exact mechanism behind this association isn’t yet fully understood, but researchers continue to investigate the potential risks associated with DEET to further unravel the truth behind it’s safety.

Considering the potential for skin irritation, eye irritation, and rare reports of seizures, it becomes evident why DEET has faced restrictions and bans in certain countries. Europe, in particular, has taken a cautious approach towards DEET usage, resulting in it’s ban or limitations on it’s concentration in insect repellent products. These measures aim to protect individuals from potential harm and encourage the use of alternative, safer repellents.

However, individuals should always weigh the potential risks and benefits before opting for DEET-based products, and should consider alternative options if they’ve sensitive skin, eye conditions, or are simply seeking a more natural and less chemically-reliant solution for insect protection.

DEET-free Alternatives for Individuals With Sensitive Skin or Allergies

  • You can try using natural insect repellents made with essential oils like citronella, lemongrass, or peppermint.
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants can help minimize exposure to insects.
  • Using mosquito nets around your sleeping area can provide added protection.
  • Planting mosquito-repellent plants in your garden, such as lavender, basil, or marigolds, may help keep insects away.
  • Avoiding peak mosquito activity times, such as dusk and dawn, can reduce the chances of getting bitten.
  • Keeping doors and windows closed, or using screens, can prevent insects from entering your home.
  • Eliminating standing water sources around your property can help reduce the mosquito population.
  • Wearing light-colored clothing and avoiding strong fragrances can make you less attractive to insects.


The European Union has taken a precautionary approach by prohibiting the use of DEET in cosmetic products, recognizing the need to protect consumers from potential risks. As the debate surrounding the use of DEET continues, further research and development of alternative repellents that are effective and safe should be pursued to ensure the well-being of individuals and the environment.

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