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Environmental Factors/Environmental Fate

DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide)
Chemical Technical Summary for Public Health
and Public Safety Professionals

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Atlanta, Georgia
December 6, 2004

Because DEET use is limited, and is only applied directly to humans, their clothing, and to household pets and their dwellings, the EPA has classified DEET as an "indoor residential" use insect repellent. DEET is stable to hydrolysis at environmental pH levels. DEET has been found to be slightly toxic to birds, fish and aquatic invertebrates, but has very low toxicity potential in mammals. Due to the manner in which DEET is applied and used, it is not likely to affect terrestrial wildlife or aquatic organisms adversely (EPA 1999).

Table 1: Physical/Chemical Properties and Safety Hazards of DEET*
Property Data
Molecular weight 191.26
Physical appearance Colorless to light yellow liquid
Boiling point 160°C
Melting point -45°C
Solubility in water <0.1g/100ml @ 20°C
Vapor pressure 0.00254 mmHg @ 25°C
Reactivity Incompatible with strong acids, strong bases and strong oxidizing agents
Flashpoint 155°C
Hazardous decomposition Emits nitrogen oxides when heated to decomposition
Odor Faint, characteristic odor
Exposure to eyes, mouth, nose Moderate to severe irritant to eyes, mucous membrane irritant
Stability/shelf life Sensitive to prolonged exposure to moisture. Solutions in water, DMSO, 95% ethanol, or acetone should be stable for 24 hours under standard laboratory conditions.
Recommended protective equipment Butyl rubber clothing used in high concentration environment to prevent dermal exposure.
*From HSDB 2001

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