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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Charles Bryant, 12, and his mom, Suzanne, are surrounded by a living room filled with clothes, camping gear, sunscreen, sunglasses, and insect repellants… yes, plural, repellants!
“Oh yeah, I told you I try stuff,” says Bryant.
Bryant says it’s hard to know exactly what insect repellant to pack. Charles is heading out on his second week-long camp out. He is a scout who will be exposed for days to a variety of insects.
Like so many moms, Bryant says she has stood in the stores, staring at the shelves, wondering exactly what to buy, and what to believe. If you look closely at all the options on the shelves, you’ll see all types of product claims — “12-hour protection,” “sweat resistant,” “water resistant,” “protects from mosquitos,” “protects from ticks,” etc…
“There are a lot of different things and you don’t know which ones will work,” says Bryant staring at bag filled with bands, sprays, bottles, and creams.
The Federal Trade Commission is now warning you not to “buy” every claim you see. The maker of a mosquito-repellant wristband, Viatek, promised the bracelet would create a five-foot “vapor barrier” which would protect you from mosquitos for up to 120-hours. It was sold on the Home Shopping Network, on online sites, in Home Depots and at Walmarts.
“That’s a pretty ambitious claim for total protection,” says Federal Trade Commission attorney Susan Arthur.
Arthur works at the Dallas FTC office which filed a complaint against Viatek for not providing scientific evidence to back up its claims.
“These days a lot of people are talking about Zika virus and wondering how to protect themselves because it’s all over the news… that would be a revolutionary product and that would change a lot of people’s lives,” says Arthur.
Bryant says you are left sending your kids into the wilderness with a lot of products and a lot of questions.
But the I-Team found answers for you on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
Log onto the EPA link above, and you can enter how much time you need protection from insects. You enter which insects you need protection from while outside. It will give you a number of products that are registered with the government. This means they have provided enough scientific evidence to prove they are safe and effective. You can also enter a specific product to find out if it has been registered with the EPA.
The I-team reached out to Viatek and received the following emailed response from its public relations.
“Thank you for contacting Viatek. In addition to this press release, we are disappointed that the FTC would say in their release that we marketed to the fears of ZIKA virus. This product was sold on TV in 2010-2012, when the Zika virus was not even present. This is FALSE information and our attorney has reached out to the FTC, however the FTC pass the blame and will not take any responsibility for their false statements.”
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