New Report Examines Impacts of Ingredients in Bug Repellent

Consumer guide contains botanical alternatives & the first MADE SAFE® Certified bug repellent

The national organization MADE SAFE released a new report and consumer guide on insect repellent today. The report, Bug Repellent: What’s In It?, details chemicals commonly used in insect repellent, examines potential health and environmental consequences, and evaluates plant-based options, including the first-ever MADE SAFE certified repellent and provides tips for reducing the use of bug spray.

“We’re excited to release this guide on bug repellent so that families can educate themselves and benefit from safer alternatives for their summer vacations,” said Amy Ziff, founder and executive director of MADE SAFE, a certification organization that awards the MADE SAFE seal to products that don’t contain known harmful chemicals. “While in some cases conventional bug repellent is necessary, we hope to provide options to people looking for safer everyday bug repellent; options that don’t include undisclosed ingredients or ingredients with the potential to harm the health of their families or the environment.”

Chemicals of concern in bug repellent include DEET, a neurotoxin and also linked to skin irritation and kidney damage; cyfluthrin, linked to endocrine disruption as well as skin and eye irritation; permethrin, a neurotoxin linked to impaired memory and aquatic toxicity; and a class of chemicals called pyrethroids that are also linked to neurotoxicity and don’t break down in the environment.

The report also contains a consumer guide detailing safer plant-based repellents that have been shown in efficacy studies to repel insects, including lemon eucalyptus oil (approved by the EPA as an effective repellent), thyme oil, clove oil, and others.

The first MADE SAFE® Certified bug repellent, Kosmatology Bug Repellent Balm, was announced today as part of the new consumer guide. MADE SAFE is the leading nontoxic certification in the country that applies widely to consumer products. It screens against authoritative lists of known toxic chemicals and then goes above and beyond to screen ingredients for bioaccumulation, persistence, and aquatic toxicity with an aim to close the significant data gaps on chemicals in use in everyday products. MADE SAFE products don’t contain registered pesticides like the ones examined in this report.

“I’m so proud that Kosmatology products bear the MADE SAFE seal, which is a guiding light for parents looking for products that won’t harm their children. My bug repellent has been crafted from organic botanical ingredients proven to repel insects, making it a good pick for families looking for a natural option.” said Janis Covey, founder of Kosmatology.

*MADE SAFE does not test for efficacy. We examine ingredients for human health and environmental harm and we don’t permit high risk pesticides. This means that approved products are taking a natural approach to bug repellent. This may work for casual settings to diminish bites, but it cannot prevent diseases. With the rise of Zika virus and concern for other mosquito and tick-borne diseases, Made Safe recognizes there is a time and place for the use of bug repellent products that would not pass our screening process. The CDC recommends using EPA-approved insect repellents, which include DEET, IR3535, citronella, picaridin, and lemon eucalyptus oil. We urge people to become informed and stay on top of advice from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 


MADE SAFE® (Made With Safe Ingredients™) is America’s first certification to screen out known toxic chemicals in consumer products across store aisles, from baby bottles and bedding to personal care, cleaners, and more. MADE SAFE, a nonprofit, makes it possible for consumers to easily find products that are made without known harmful chemicals while also offering brands and retailers a road map to making and selling safer products. Founded by Amy Ziff with a mission to change the way products are made in America and around the world, the certification scrutinizes ingredients to avoid using materials linked to known human health harm. Consumers should always follow manufacturer guidelines for use when using any products. For more information, visit


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