Friday, October 24, 2014

Citronella bug spray to be barred

WINNIPEG—If you like citronella in your bug spray, you had better stock up before Christmas.
The Winnipeg Free Press says in a report from Ottawa that it won’t be found on any shelves starting in January.

Health Canada says that’s because no one has been able to sufficiently prove citronella is safe when applied to one’s skin.
Citronella is an essential oil obtained from the lemongrass plant.
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Canada regulates and approves for use all insect repellent.
In 2004, Health Canada made a move to phase out citronella insect repellents as part of a review of all pesticides that had been approved prior to 1995 to make sure they met modern health and environmental standards.
The majority of the products were discontinued in 2012 because most of the companies that manufacture them didn’t have the money to do any of the required testing themselves.
A small number that did had until this year to submit new data.
“The ones who did, failed,” a spokesman for Health Canada said.
The last few products will be pulled from the approved Health Canada registry at the end of December.
NDP health critic Libby Davies said she’s confused by the decision and thinks Health Canada should reconsider.
“I use citronella and many Canadians use citronella because they don’t want to use harsh chemicals,” she noted.
“Obviously, health and safety are paramount but this seems excessive.”
The main issue around citronella isn’t that studies have shown it to be unsafe. Rather, there are no acceptable studies in Canada showing it is safe.
Davies said studies in the U.S. have done just that.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approves citronella as a non-toxic biochemical that can be used in lotions, sprays, cloth wipes, and other products.
Davies wants Health Canada to stop its plans to bar the products from store shelves here and review the available material from the U.S.
“We’re not saying just let it go, we’re saying take another look at it,” said Davies.
“They need to look at whether this is good public policy.”
Insect repellents containing the chemical DEET are allowed as long as they are in acceptable concentrations, and include labels about the proper amount and timing of applications.

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