The New Graphic will do for Insect Repellents What SPF Labeling did for Sunscreens

Remember the days before SPF when you weren’t so sure how long your sun screen would protect you from the sun’s harmful rays? Maybe I’m dating myself. I burn easily and had no idea how to protect myself, what to apply, and when to reapply suntan lotion.

Many of us continue to experience the same problems when trying to decide which mosquito repellent to use and when to reapply it. And what about ticks?

Nowadays we know that both mosquitoes and ticks carry some serious diseases. Mosquitoes can give you West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis, and ticks can transmit serious diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Like sunscreens, mosquito and tick repellents can provide important protection against potentially lifelong health problems.

Today we are unveiling a new graphic that will allow you to make informed choices about how and when to apply mosquito and tick repellents. The SPF of bug repellents, if you will. The graphic, which will be available to appear on the labels of insect repellent products, will show which insect(s) the product will repel (mosquitoes and/or ticks) and the estimated number of hours the product will work effectively.

We are now accepting applications from manufacturers that wish to add the graphic to their repellent product label. All EPA-registered repellents are tested for safety and to make sure they work. Companies that want to use the new graphic on their registered products will just have to submit an application so EPA scientists can confirm that the products work for the length of time indicated.

The public can expect to see the graphic on repellent products early next year. The new graphic, with prominent, consumer-friendly design, will allow us all to choose better protection from serious mosquito and tick-borne diseases. It will:

  • appear only on insect repellent products that are applied directly to the skin,
  • provide important information on choosing insect repellent products that are right for you and your needs, and
  • display the number of hours a product will repel mosquitoes and/or ticks (when used as directed).

We worked to get public input on the proposed graphic through focus groups, an online survey, public comments and collaboration with repellent manufacturers, among others. Thanks for all your input!