I recently received an “Bug Shield-Insect Blocker” shirt from Columbia Sportswear for my husband and I to “test” - First impression of the silky shirt was “wow, it looks like it wrinkles very easily” - then came my second impression: the label.
Okay, I should explain that I’m a naturalist, probably bordering on hippy-like tree hugger. I despise toxic chemicals, insecticides, pesticides, etc. I think big businesses have virtually ruined our earth by contaminating it with toxic waste products while the government looks the “other way”.....so needless to say, my initial instincts were to run from this shirt, but my curiosity got the better of me. So, I agreed to test a shirt.
The shirt arrived, and as I stated, the first impression was that the shirt was very wrinkle-prone. I wore it once in the backyard while taking the dogs out for their morning break. Yes, the bugs seemed to be repelled. But when I brought it back into the house, I figured I’d better launder it before wearing it further, and then I looked closer at the washing instructions on the label.
Stated on Label: Remains effective for 70 washings, but wash separately from other clothing and “dispose of garment in the trash” - the “active ingredient” is PERMETHRIN.
Well, if you believe the Columbia Sportswear Insect Blocker web page, this chemical is “a synthetic version of a naturally occurring insect repellent found in certain types of chrysanthemums” - sounds wonderful, doesn’t it. Very natural and safe, right? Wrong!
Permethrin is 100% man-made, and yes it might have once been based on a plant, but it’s far from safe! In fact, it doesn’t just repel bugs, it KILLS them, along with fish. That label doesn’t tell you that you should NEVER allow the garment to be washed or submerged in a river or lake, as this chemical is highly toxic to aquatic organisms. It’s pretty scary when you read the reviews on the Columbia Sportswear web site that state that users are going fishing wearing this shirt!
And then there are the honeybees. Yep, Permethrin can kill honeybees, as well as other beneficial insects.
The EPA has classified Permethrin as a “possible cancer causing carcinogen because there is limited evidence of cancer in animals” and there is also evidence that it can cause organs like the liver to enlarge. Human and animal newborns are more sensitive to Permethrin, so it’s extremely important to keep this toxin away from the young.
Cats also have been poisoned by this chemical.
The shirt is manufactured for Columbia Sportswear by Insect Shield LLC in Greensboro, NC, and after looking at their web site, they mention NOTHING about any possible dangers of this chemical to water, fish, cats, and children. In fact, they praise it for “saving lives” on their FAQ page.
So, will I wear this shirt again? Heck no! Would I recommend other campers to purchase this shirt? What do you think? NO WAY! Not just because the retail price is an outrageous $80, but because there is no proof that this shirt will not cause damage to the environment and to our health.
I am not sure what I’m going to do with the shirt now. It states to “dispose of in the trash”, but that seems too risky. What if the chemical leeches into water before it’s dissipated? Yes, I am probably over-reacting, but I feel like I need to take a shower after even touching this shirt. And I especially don’t want my pets to go near it!
Hmm, do you think this means that Columbia Sportswear won’t be contacting me to test any more of their products? LOL
So, now that I’ve totally blasted this product, what DO I recommend for a natural bug repellent (that actually repels bugs but won’t KILL them, along with other living things)? How about a natural product like Quantum Buzzaway, made with geranium oil. It works, I’ve used it! There are plenty of much safer products available that use natural oils, not toxic chemicals. Or better yet, make your own homemade version!
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