Toxicant Paper

This research paper examines the chemical Deet. This chemical was developed by the United States Army to combat swarms of parasitic insects that can be prolific in and around military institutions, and on the battlefield. When the chemical became open to the public, millions of people began using the product for recreation in the outdoors. Therefore, it is important to identify any potential health risks that are induced by the toxicant. Concurrently, the biological impacts that involved the disposal of Deet should be investigated in order to estimate the effects the chemical can cause on the whole of the environment. After the ecological effects are discussed, other societal factors the chemical invokes will be analyzed; including economical benefits and scientific research. Next, various case studies that were conducted on Deet are examined, and their findings are discussed to identify the potential effects usage of the toxicant can cause. With the information revealed, a final recommendation based on the findings of the paper is made to improve current utilizations of Deet products for both the environment and humans


Introduction and Background
Airborne diseases have plagued human kind for hundreds of thousands of years. Millions of people have lost their lives at the hands of deadly airborne diseases. A primary vector, or carrier organism for many airborne diseases (malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever just to name a few) is the mosquito. An almost infinitesimal creature has created such monstrous epidemics of infectious disease. Widespread outbreaks of airborne diseases are prevalent during periods of conflict or war; as unsanitary battlefield conditions facilitated mosquito proliferations. Thus, during the most deadly of all wars, World War Two, vast efforts were made to develop insecticides to keep the population of mosquitoes in check, and therefore, the potential for major outbreaks of infectious diseases swell. In the early nineteen forties as Allied Troops battled the Axis powers a chemical compound that had strong insect-repellant properties was developed. Diethyltoluamide, or Deet as it is affectionately called was created by the United States Army in 1946 as a battlefield insect repellant. After military usage Deet was registered for civilian use in 1957, and became very popular for recreational use as an insect repellant. Numerous insect companies began marketing Deet as an effective insect repellant. Most people that use Deet products during outdoor activities where there were abundant mosquito populations. With the recent concern over Lyme disease, a neurological disease that is spread through the vector organism the Deer Tick; Deet is also being used to halt the spread of that illness. Since Lyme disease contractions occur around the Northeast

region of the United States 70 New York based companies currently produce 230 products that are registered with compositions of chemicals that include Deet. Currently, the United States government maintains that Deet is completely benign to humans, so long as it is utilized correctly and is sold at diluted concentrations (Cornell University Online 1999). In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency recently conducted an investigation in 1997 probing for potential health risks to the use of Deet and concluded that, “…as long as consumers follow label directions and take proper precautions, insect repellants containing Deet do not present a health concern” (EPA Online 2000). However, many case studies (that will be discussed in the case study analysis) indicate that high concentrations of the substance can cause a number of potentially hazardous side effects; and, that in addition, higher concentrations of the substance “…produce increased exposure and the risk of adverse reaction, with little or no increased benefit in protection” (Cornell University Online 1999).
Production of the chemical Deet is entirely synthetic. The chemical does require special disposure methods that can occur at sanitation facilities. Ingestion of Deet, as will soon be explained, can be extremely dangerous to human life. So improper disposal can pose a risk of contamination into drinking water. The government usually provides the costs of disposing hazardous chemicals. The primary reason Deet is dangerous is if it is ingested, so most disposal methods legal or otherwise, produce little effect on its toxicity. The production of Deet induces many benefits to the

general public. At the very least, Deet does serve to inhibit the common annoyance of pestering insects when people are outdoors. Its ability to repel disease-carrying insects