"Common Insect Repellent Affects Nervous System: Study"

"PARIS -- One of the world's most common insect repellents acts on the central nervous system in the same way as some insecticides and nerve gases, according to a study released on Wednesday.

Moderate use of the chemical compound, called deet, is most likely safe, the researchers say.

But experiments on insects, as well as on enzymes extracted from mice and human neurons, showed for the first time that it can interfere with the proper functioning of the nervous system.

The researchers say further studies are 'urgently needed' to assess deet's potential toxicity to humans, especially when combined with other chemical compounds.

Their findings may also shed some light on the so-called 'Gulf War Syndrome,' the name given to a complex and variable mix of neurological symptoms reported by tens of thousands of US military veterans who served in the first Gulf War against Iraq in 1990-1991.

Developed by US Department of Agriculture scientists just after World War II, deet has been available as a bug repellent for more than five decades."

Marlowe Hood reports for AFP August 4, 2009.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009