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What is N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET)?

N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, also known as DEET, is a chemical ingredient used in insect repellent products. This chemical deters insects such as mosquitoes, black flies, and fleas, preventing the spread of insect-borne diseases such as the West Nile Virus, the Zika Virus, or malaria. DEET products can be accessed in various forms including liquid, lotions, or sprays.

DEET was first developed by the United States Army in 1946 as a way to protect troops from malaria and yellow fever carrying insects and approved for public use in 1957. Today DEET is used in various forms, and approximately 30 percent of Americans use it in one of the numerous ways it can be purchased in. Though it is safe for use on human skin, institutions like the Environmental Protection Agency warns users not to ingest it orally.


Other Sources

Ronca, Debra. “How DEET Works.” How Stuff Works. Accessed August 2, 2016.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. “DEET.” EPA. Accessed July 28, 2016.