Study finds the bug-repellent ingredient stopped an enzyme from doing its job
DEET, the active ingredient in many bug repellents, doesn’t only cripple mosquitoes — it also meddles with mammals. A new study examining DEET’s effects on insects, mice and human proteins reports that the chemical interferes with a prominent central nervous system enzyme. This effect is magnified when exposure to DEET is combined with exposure to certain pesticides, researchers report online August 4 in BMC Biology.
The results are consistent with previous studies, says Bahie Abou-Donia of the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C, who was not involved in the new work.
“DEET is a good chemical for protection against insects,” he says. “But prolonged exposure results in neurological damage, and this is enhanced by other chemicals and medications.”