Home Health Consumers Alerted to Ingredient Labels on Mosquito Repellents for Effective Protection

Consumers Alerted to Ingredient Labels on Mosquito Repellents for Effective Protection

Consumers Alerted to Ingredient Labels on Mosquito Repellents

The Consumer Council has issued a caution to consumers to scrutinize ingredient labels when purchasing mosquito repellents, following findings that certain natural ingredient-based products may attract mosquitoes instead of repelling them. The council’s comprehensive analysis revealed that repellents containing DEET and picaridin deliver superior, long-lasting protection.

The council’s rigorous testing of 25 mosquito repellents, with prices ranging from HK$18.9 to HK$259 per bottle, demonstrated that eight out of nine products containing DEET and picaridin maintained over 80% protection for four hours against both the southern house and yellow fever mosquitoes.

Among the tested products, 3M’s Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion emerged as the most effective. With a DEET concentration exceeding 30%, the product prevented any mosquito landings on the tester’s forearm during the four-hour test period.

Despite these promising results, council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han emphasized the potential adverse effects of high-concentration DEET, including skin rashes, blisters, and irritation. Wong advised against applying DEET-based repellents on infants and recommended using low-concentration products for children due to the increased risks associated with DEET exposure in young ones.

“The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health advises that children use mosquito repellents with a maximum of 10% DEET concentration,” Wong stated at a press conference. “Infants under six months should avoid DEET-containing products unless traveling to areas where mosquito-borne diseases are prevalent.”

Picaridin, Wong noted, is less likely to cause skin irritation than DEET but still requires caution to avoid contact with the eyes.

The study also assessed formulations with alternative ingredients such as IR335, PMD, and wild tomato extract. The efficacy of these varied significantly, with two products containing wild tomato extract showing only 16% and 26% repellent efficacy for 30 minutes post-application. Products claiming to have natural ingredients generally performed well against the southern house mosquito but fared poorly against the yellow fever mosquito.

One particular formulation, Cherub Rubs Scatterbugs, was found to attract mosquitoes. The manufacturer clarified that the product is intended primarily as a safe outdoor moisturizer with a brief mosquito repellent effect.

Wong urged consumers to select mosquito repellents based on their specific needs and to consult healthcare professionals if allergic to certain ingredients.

In a related advisory, the council cautioned parents about baby clothes with long decorative items that could pose safety risks. Testing of 30 baby clothing items suitable for children aged two and below revealed 11 models with detachable snaps or buttons, posing a choking hazard. Additionally, five models featured cord designs that did not meet European safety standards, posing a strangulation risk.

The council recommended parents wash new baby clothes to remove potential allergenic chemicals. One clothing model was found to contain 32.3 mg/kg of free formaldehyde, exceeding safety standards and potentially irritating babies’ skin. Ten models contained brighteners that could also cause skin allergies.

As summer approaches, the Consumer Council’s findings underscore the importance of making informed choices to protect against mosquito-borne diseases and ensuring the safety of children’s clothing.