Is Citronella Actually Safe?
It has been used in Australia for decades as a fragrant oil, a room spray, and kitchen cleaner, but is citronella an effective Mosquito Repellant? The research coming forth about the scented plant is surprising.
According to Australian Health Department reports, citronella offers substantially lower protection times than DEET, however, we also now know thanks to new research that DEET can interfere with our nervous system. DEET can strengthen the toxicity of carbamates say neuroscientists.
The Queensland Health Department states that carbamates are relatively unstable compounds, and are an insecticide. Neuropathy can develop days to weeks after exposure says Einstein medical center and it can be absorbed in the air and through the skin. Although poisoning is rare, long-term studies are worrying, particularly when carbamates have the ability to affect the body at a molecular level. Sound like something you want to put on your skin? Putting chemicals, naturally sourced or not on your skin is the same as putting it on your tongue. If in doubt- do the research!
So we are establishing a concerning trend. It appears there is money in citronella, it is currently the go-to for so-called “Natural Insect Repellents”, commercially. Why? It is cheap to access, cheap to produce in labor dominant countries and in many cases it is not cultivated sustainably. Recent scholar articles show citronella is so heavily produced; there is now the problem of re-purposing the pulp waste product. Is it ecologically and ethically responsible to use it in products?
While we will leave that to the bio-scientists, we do know that it is UNSAFE to inhale citronella oil. Lung damage has been reported. In fact, Livescience.com recently stated that Citronella was not recommended for pregnant women, as the products have limited effectiveness because they evaporate quickly. Journal Science has stated that if you want to stay safe from mosquitos “don’t use citronella candles.” Citronella along with Neem oil has been banned in Europe since 2006 as a repellant. In fact official body; the European Chemicals Agency states a strong warning in their online documentation “CLP notifications this substance may be fatal if swallowed and enters airways, is toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects, causes serious eye damage, causes skin irritation, may cause respiratory irritation, may cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled and may cause an allergic skin reaction.”
As seen in extensive studies in the USA, over time and repeated use, insecticide resistance is occurring in mosquito populations. These airborne biters are defying the repellants, and new formulations are being tried and tested in the battle against the disease being spread globally.
The conclusion? Citronella might be great to clean your kitchen sink, but when it comes to a Natural Mosquito Repellant, the jury is now shaking its head. The search is now on for a high performing Natural Mosquito Repellent that is genuinely safe, not just an on-trend urban myth.