Paul Anastas, director of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute, makes house-keeping announcements before introducing the daily keynote speaker. Anastas’ big news on Wednesday was that patches of blue sky finally were visible outside the Capital Hilton hotel. Conference attendees have been in a deluge since record rainfalls began last weekend. One unpleasant fallout from the downfall already has started to appear − a bumper crop of mosquitoes. In barely two minutes outside at home last night filling the bird feeders, I got bitten badly. Yes, I’d spray on mosquito repellent, except I hate the odor and have to shower afterwards.
After that experience, I was delighted at Frank Lueckgen’s conference presentation on Bayrepel (also known as Picaridin), "a safe, effective, environmentally friendly insect repellent that people will use." Lueckgen is with the Lanxess Corporation in Pittsburgh, Penn., a spin-off of the Bayer Group, which developed Picaridin. He described Picaridin as a green alternative to traditional repellents based on N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET).
Chemists developed Picaridin with three-dimensional modeling to act on specific olfactory receptors of insects. "Picaridin demonstrates broad effectiveness against mosquitoes, ticks, sand flies and horseflies," according to Lueckgen. "It is gentle on the skin, is non-sticky and has almost no scent to humans. Picaridin is not damaging to plastics, fibers or coating and sealing compounds. This product is safe for use by the whole family."
With those properties, Picaridin overcomes cosmetic disadvantages that lead people to decline using insect repellents and accept the risk of bites and mosquito-borne diseases, Lueckgen said. Picaridin has been a best-seller in other countries for years, but was first introduced in the United States in 2005. It is the active ingredient in one popular commercial insect repellent.
Lueckgen’s closing comments convinced me to give the green repellent a try before I refill those bird feeders tonight: "Unless people are willing to use it, no repellent can protect against disease-carrying insects."