- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Should Disinsection Of Aircraft Be Allowed?
Disinsection refers to the practice of spraying aircraft with insecticides. This occurs on both domestic and international flights. It is carried out for the purpose of preventing the dissemination of insects as well as disease. This in an international practice, though regulations vary from country to country, often depending on a flight's origin..
Planes may be sprayed at one or more times. Spraying may take just place just before the passangers have begun to disembark. Flight Attendants merely spay single-shot aerosol doses of insecticide throughout the cabin. Spraying may take place as planes begin to make preparations for landing, or finally, the plane may be sprayed in all areas, except for the food preparation area, when the plane is empty.
The most common chemicals used for disinsection are pyrethroids, synthetic nerve poisons such as those used to eradicate head lice. Various problems, related to disinsection, have been reported by both passengers and crew members. Such problems include sinus problems, swollen and itchy eyes, difficulty breathing, rashes, headaches and in more serious cases, nervous-system and immune system damage. In spite of these reported problems, the WHO considers both the type of insecticides used, and the methods of use, to be safe.
The WHO does however caution that these chemicals can be toxic and that there should be on-going research into substances that have fewer adverse effects. Not everyone agrees that the present levels or methods of disinsection are safe. Even some members of the US Congress have spoken out against current practices.
Control of disease is vital for world health and therefore, presently at least, the benefits of disinsection are considered to outweigh the potential risks. Is this a reality, and also, should airline passengers be informed if this procedure is to take place on their flight?
If you have health concerns and want to know if a planned flight is to be sprayed with insecticide, at any stage, contact your airline. As even some airline employees are unaware of disinsection, insist on accurate information from a qualified spokesperson.