How often should you be reapplying bug spray? The U.S. government is rolling out new product labeling for bug spray in order tohelp Americans reduce their likelihood of developing the illnesses that insects like mosquitoes and ticks spread from person to person.
The updated graphic will indicate just how long consumers should expect bug spray to protect them from biting outdoor insects. It was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, and will start showing up in stores next year, giving bug spray companies time to adjust accordingly.
Although bug-spray manufacturers are not required to change their labels, if they do want to showcase the new graphic, they will need to submit data to the government showing that the product will actually work for as long as the graphic claims it will. As usual, they will also need to register their products with the EPA.
Why the change in graphics? Many are concerned by the recent uptick in the number of insect-spread diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 300,000 cases of Lyme Disease in the U.S. each year — a disease spread by ticks. A joint statement from the EPA and the CDC last week indicated that bug-spread illnesses are on the rise.
According to Jim Jones, the assistant head of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the EPA, it’s likely that many manufacturers will choose to conduct the extra testing. It’s the type of information consumers will want to know, after all. “It’s hard right now to figure out from labels how long you’ll be protected,” says Jones, citing how better product labeling will help consumers know when and how frequently to use the bug spray they purchase.
So far, the graphic is only up for use by products applied to the skin. Other products, such as citronella candles, will not be able to make use of the graphic. In addition to following the updated and improved directions, the CDC urges consumers to avoid places where bugs are likely to frequent when possible, and to wear long-sleeved shirts, hats and closed-toed shoes in forest environments.