Here’s why mainstream bug sprays are so dangerous for your health

Here’s why mainstream bug sprays are so dangerous for your health

There’s a common misconception that you don’t need to spray your home during the fall or winter because that’s when many insects hibernate. But the truth is, these seasons are the perfect time to do some pest control.    

As temperatures start to drop, bugs will begin searching for food and warmth. Your home, with its tiny cracks and crevices and abundance of resources, is one of the best places to ride out the cold weather, so bugs will naturally try to invade it.

To protect your home in the fall from bug invasion, you need to continue spraying and conducting home maintenance. Taking these crucial steps is the only way to limit the number of pests that make their way into your home. [1]

If you don’t see a single bug during winter, don’t be fooled into complacency. Many critters become dormant when it’s cold to conserve energy, so they’ll stay out of sight until the warm spring weather draws them out again. [2][3]

There are also some bugs that can tolerate the cold, such as deer ticks, spiders and silverfish. [4] Deer ticks can get inside your home through your pets and are known to bite humans. They can also spread the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. [5]

Meanwhile, silverfish like damp places and are particularly attracted to paper, cardboard boxes and books. Female silverfish can lay thousands of eggs, and infestations during winter have become increasingly common in recent years. [6]

That’s why you can’t stop spraying for bugs just because the weather’s gone cold and there are no pests in sight. You need to keep the defense up all year long to protect your home from infestation and from pests that could bring diseases.

But for you and your family’s safety, don’t just trust any bug spray. Many commercial brands market their products as “powerful and effective,” but there’s no guarantee that they’re safe. After all, if they’re strong enough to kill insects with just a few sprays, then who’s to say these chemicals won’t harm your health as well?   

Why commercial bug sprays aren’t the best solution 

Many insect pests are carriers of human disease. Mosquitoes, for instance, are classic vectors of viruses like dengue, Zika, West Nile and chikungunya. They are also responsible for transmitting malaria, a serious and potentially deadly disease caused by Plasmodium parasites. [7]

Fleas, on the other hand, are spreaders of bacterial diseases. You can get sick by coming in contact with infected fleas via your pets. In California, flea-borne typhus, which is transmitted to humans by infected cat fleas, is considered endemic in certain areas. [8] Fleas are also the carriers of intestinal parasites known as tapeworms. [9]

Like mosquitoes and fleas, cockroaches can also serve as vectors for viruses and bacteria. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cockroaches can carry salmonella and the polio virus. These hardy bugs are also an allergen source and can trigger asthma attacks. [10]

Because of their ability to spread pathogens, these pests are a danger to you and your family and must be eliminated immediately. Spraying with insect repellent can help keep pesky bugs away, but you should take care not to spray too much or too often or you’ll run the risk of bug spray poisoning.

Breathing in or accidentally swallowing bug repellent, especially if it contains toxic ingredients like DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), can cause serious harm to humans. DEET is a chemical widely used in bug sprays for its ability to repel insects and prevent insect bites. [11]

When sprayed on the skin, products that contain DEET can cause hives and skin irritation. They can also cause temporary burning and redness if they get into your eyes, ears, nose or throat. If swallowed, even a small amount can cause stomach irritation, nausea and vomiting. [12]

Regular use of insect repellents containing DEET has also been reported to cause seizures in small children. [13] But the most serious complication of DEET poisoning is damage to the nervous system, which can cause disorientation, seizures, coma and even death.

In a study published in the journal BMC Biology, researchers found that DEET can block the activity of cholinesterases, enzymes that are crucial to the normal functioning of the nervous system. [14] Cholinesterases are heavily involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. [15]

A researcher from Duke University Medical Center also cautions about using bug sprays containing DEET. His studies on animals show that prolonged exposure to DEET kills large numbers of brain cells, causing severe brain and behavioral deficits. The deceased cells belong to brain regions that control muscle movement, learning, concentration and memory. [16] 

Other harmful chemicals commonly found in commercial bug sprays 

Aside from DEET, there are plenty of other chemicals, both natural and synthetic, used as active ingredients in commercial bug sprays. But compared to brands containing DEET, these products are generally considered less effective. In spite of this, they still cause adverse effects.

Here are some more chemicals you should watch out for in commercial bug sprays:


Cyfluthrin is a chemical used to control pests like ants, cockroaches, fleas, mosquitoes, flies and silverfish. [17] It belongs to a group of man-made chemicals called pyrethroids, which are synthetic derivatives of pyrethrins. Pyrethrins are natural pesticides derived from chrysanthemum flowers. [18]

The most notable thing about cyfluthrin is that it is structurally similar to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), a common insecticide used in agriculture. DDT is considered a possible human carcinogen and is known to accumulate in fat tissues – something cyfluthrin has also been found to do. [19][20][21]

According to a study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, cyfluthrin is a neurotoxic compound that can alter the expression of genes involved in the development and maturation of brain cells, which could lead to nerve dysfunction. [22] 


Another synthetic pyrethroid, permethrin is used in mosquito control programs and on food crops. It is also commonly found in flea collars, spot-on treatments for dogs, treatments for head lice and scabies, and insect repellents used in places where food is handled, such as restaurants. [23]

Permethrin can be absorbed through the skin. Products containing this chemical can irritate your eyes and skin upon contact, as well as your nose, throat and lungs when inhaled. Permethrin can also cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, muscle weakness and excessive salivation. [24]

According to a study published in the journal BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology, long-term exposure to permethrin-containing products, even at low doses, can cause chronic toxicity and kidney and liver damage. [25] 

Other pyrethroids

Pyrethroids are the largest class of synthetic insecticides developed by man, which is why they’re commonly found in insect repellents. About 1,000 different chemicals are classified as pyrethroids and have also been labeled as neurotoxic.

What makes these neurotoxins so scary is that some types actually make it to your brain. A 2019 study by University of Georgia researchers showed that cis- and trans-permethrin can cross the blood brain barrier, which is supposed to stop harmful substances from reaching your brain. [26]

The researchers noted that younger brains are more susceptible to pyrethroids because their blood brain barriers are still not fully developed, making them more permeable. This means that bug sprays containing pyrethroids pose more danger to children than adults.

In a case report published in the journal Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers also discussed how two pyrethroids, namely, cypermethrin and bifenthrin, caused facial paresthesia in a 13-month-old child. The pyrethroids were active ingredients of a commercially available insecticide used to spray the child’s home. [27] 


Picaridin is a widely used synthetic bug repellent in Europe and Australia. Approved for use directly on skin or clothing. Picaridin is said to repel insects, ticks and chiggers. [28]

According to studies, picaridin’s effectiveness rivals that of DEET, making it a good competitor. Nevertheless, various symptoms such as eye pain and irritation, vomiting, red eye or conjunctivitis, and oral irritation have been reported following exposure to bug sprays that contain picaridin. [29]

In a 2004 report published in Acta Dermato-Venereologica, Italian researchers discussed the case of a 39-year-old man who developed allergic contact dermatitis after being exposed to a commercial insect repellent. The active ingredient of the bug spray was picaridin. [30] 

Dimethyl phthalate (DMP)

DMP is a non-biodegradable, synthetic chemical used in pesticides, lacquers, plastics, rubber coating agents and insect repellents. It is also used in very small quantities in some topical and oral formulations intended for repelling insects. [31][32]

According to data published by the Environmental Protection Agency, DMP-containing products can irritate the eyes, nose and throat when inhaled. Chronic oral exposure can also negatively affect growth and kidney health, as shown in animal studies. [33] 


DEPA, or N,N-diethyl-2-phenylacetamide, is a clear, colorless liquid often used in broad spectrum insect repellent formulations. Touted as a multi-insect repellent, this synthetic chemical is said to be effective against mosquitoes, leaches and other blood-sucking organisms. [34]

But products containing DEPA can irritate the eyes, skin and mucus membranes. [35] They can also make it difficult to breathe when inhaled. In a study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, researchers reported that continuous exposure to high doses of DEPA can cause miscarriages in female rats and birth defects. [36] 

Where to get DEET-free bug spray made with all-natural, non-toxic ingredients 

Bug sprays are useful household products that can help keep your family safe from insect-borne diseases. Unfortunately, most commercial insect repellents rely on toxic chemicals to fulfill their intended purpose. While these products may deliver on their promises, they also endanger the health of your loved ones and the environment.

That is why the Health Ranger Store has formulated an all-natural bug spray that can help you get rid of pesky bugs without jeopardizing your health or your family’s safety.

Made with honest, clean ingredients, Health Ranger Select DEET-Free Bug Defender is our answer to commercial insect repellents that contain nothing but toxic chemicals. The key ingredient of our non-toxic bug spray is Texas cedar essential oil, a potent oil with natural insecticidal properties that can safely and effectively repel dangerous bugs and pests.

The cedar oil in Health Ranger Select DEET-Free Bug Defender works in six different ways to protect you from bed bugs, flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, fleas, ants, moths, mites, ticks and chiggers. Its active compound, cedrol, is not only an effective insect repellent, but it is also safe, fragrant and pet-friendly, so you can use it around kids and pets without worries. For maximum bug prevention, spray our product anywhere there are bugs on a weekly basis.

Health Ranger Select DEET-Free Bug Defender is non-China, DEET-free and laboratory verified for cleanliness and potency. Our specially formulated bug spray is also extensively lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology. Note that this product is NOT to be ingested, sprayed on the skin or used for plants.

Protect your home and your family from bugs without the risk of chemical poisoning with our all-natural, non-toxic bug repellent! 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any diseases.