7 On Your Side: Clothing As Insect Repellent - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

6/19/06-Tyler

7 On Your Side: Clothing As Insect Repellent

Dr. Gene McConnell is a fly fishing fanatic. "What I love most about the sport is the peace and tranquility of being able to be out in nature and view nature," says McConnell. But while he's trying to reel in the fish the mosquitos often send him reeling! "They can make a wonderful experience into a disaster." That's why Dr. McConnell now wears special clothing embedded with permethrin, a man made version of a natural insect repellent found in some chrysanthemums. He says, in many cases, the clothes eliminate the need for bug spray and deet. There's a market for these clothes here in East Texas. They come in a variety of styles at Gander Mountain in Tyler. "They last for a while, you don't want to dry clean it so they're easy to take care of," says Apparel, Clothing and Footwear Manager Jessica Knight. These clothes are made by the company Buzz Off. We talked to company president Richard Lane, who's business treats clothing for the military and now for famous retailers like LL Bean, Orvis even designer Tommy Hilfiger! "Buzz Off apparel protects against insects that carry vector borne diseases such as malaria, lyme disease, west nile disease, also yellow fever, typhus," says Lane. The treated clothing promises to protect for at least 25 washings. Lane says after a tremendous amount of testing, the technology was approved by the EPA for safety and effectiveness. "Our product set carries their most favorable safety rating," says Lane. But that's not enough to convince environmentalist Paul McRandle with The Green Guide. He says while these garments may be useful in some cases he's concerned. "The permethrin coating can come off and be absorbed by the skin. It can cause skin irritation, eye irritation. High does of permethrin have also caused asthma and other affects," says McRandle. McRandle wants to see warning labels. But toxicologist Marion Ehrich says while permethrin can be toxic in high concentrations, "Not in the concentrations or in the way that it's used on clothing. It's a one percent product. One wouldn't expect it to rub off on the skin and the skin has enzymes that are going to break it down." Dr. McConnell is not only a satisfied customer, he's a toxicologist...who saw most of the military research on permethrin as a member of the national academy of sciences. He says he'll be packing his treated shirts and pants for his next trip!

Dr. McConnell recommends people only use treated clothing when necessary...for example, in the summer in mosquito and tick prone areas...but not in the winter... And he says you may still need some bug spray on exposed skin. While there are no published studies on the effectiveness of consumer clothing with permethrin, there is data showing it successfully protects soldiers when bonded to military uniforms.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@ktlvcom.

 

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