Summer 2016 is fast approaching.
This past winter was the warmest winter in 121 years of record keeping for the lower 48 states. [i] So far, spring 2016 has proven to be wet, wet, wet! All of these factors can contribute to a rise in biting insect populations such as mosquitos, gnats, ticks, fleas, and biting flies. While insect bites can be harmless yet annoying in most cases, some insects can carry viruses that are harmful or fatal to humans. The best protection is to prevent bites before they happen.
For those who work in industries where flame-resistant clothing is needed for protection from arc flash or flash fire, choosing the right bite prevention is a little different from choosing a repellent for use at home. Some questions that may come up are:
- Who should use an insect repellent when wearing FR clothing?
- Should repellent be used on the skin or on the clothing?
- How do I know if a repellent is safe to use with FR clothing?
Any person who works outdoors, in an environment where insect bites are a concern, should use some means to protect themselves from bites and the various infectious diseases they may carry. Using a safe, non-flammable, insect repellent formulated for use with FR clothing reduces the possibility of contracting Zika virus, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, West Nile virus, and other vectors spread by mosquitoes and ticks.
Repellents formulated to be safe for use with FR clothing use Permethrin as a clothing treatment to repel and kill insects.[ii] These repellents are for use in treating clothing and are not be used on the skin. Some repellents made for use on the skin contain DEET (N, Ndiethyl-3-methylbenzamide). Testing has shown that DEET reduces the flame-resistance of FR clothing and it is recommended to avoid the use of products containing DEET or flammable propellants on FR garments.[iii] Always follow the manufacturer’s directions when using any insect repellent.
Insect repellents that are safe for use with FR clothing are labeled specifically for that purpose. The manufacturer should be able to provide testing information that shows that the product does not alter the flame-resistance of an FR garment and that the product is non-flammable and does not contain flammable propellants.
More information on hazards to outdoor workers can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/outdoor/
[ii] Rainbow Technology Corporation. “TICK & MOSQUITO REPELLENT FOR FR CLOTHING.” : Rainbow Tech. N.p., 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
[iii] Anderson, Leslie, and Tony Petrilli. “0551-2327P-MTDC: DEET Mosquito Repellant Reduces the Flame Resistance, Index.” 0551-2327P-MTDC: DEET Mosquito Repellant Reduces the Flame Resistance, Index. United States Forest Service, July 2005. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.