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The Minnesota Department of Health is conducting an investigation into the popular insect repellant N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET), in response to concerns over its prevalence in groundwater, rivers and lakes that serve as drinking water sources.
DEET has also been detected downstream of wastewater treatment plants.
"We shower, it goes down the drain, and it ends up in wastewater that goes into rivers," state toxicologist Helen Goeden said.
DEET, the active ingredient in most chemical insect repellants, may be toxic to the nervous system.
"[DEET] is probably the most effective insect repellent known, but it is also potentially quite toxic and it can destroy substances such as plastics and synthetic fabrics, so it must be used with care and only in accordance with package directions," writes Phyllis A. Balch in her book Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition.