Screened-in porches, citronella candles, bug zapping lanterns — Americans employ myriad defenses against the mosquito bite. We even spray chemicals directly onto our kids’ tender skin to repel the pests. Now the maker of OFF! mosquito repellent (SC Johnson & Son) has launched a new product to avoid the pitfalls of applying greasy chemicals onto your skin. It’s the Clip-On. Made for individual use (clip it on your bag or belt or just lay it flat on a park bench), the Clip-On’s AA battery-operated fan spreads the odorless, recently registered (2008) pesticide metofluthrin all around you creating an invisible dome-like effect around the user for 12 hours. (For the animal testing results on metofluthrin, like tremor and vomiting in dogs, check here.)
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Bureau of Pesticides Management) has voiced its concerns about how the Clip-On may lend itself to misuse (e.g. individuals using the fan as a personal cooling device, increasing exposure and carcinogenic potential) and about it being an attractive object for children (who might easily mistake the Clip-On for a toy). SC Johnson responded by reminding the Department that the closest comparable products (citronella candles, lanterns, et al) “require heat or combustion to disperse the material, which poses an even greater set of concerns.” Also, due to the high cost of the fan ($7-10), “people are not likely to use more than one unit at a time,” said the company.