Systemic prevention to control mosquito population
Date: August 22nd 2017
Every rainy season is accompanied with a surge of mosquitoes and yet our Government fails to take even the simplest, least expensive, preventive precautionary measures to control mosquito populations. Instead, once again the Regional Corporations under the guidance of the Ministry of Health has resumed fogging in the capital city and nearby residential areas with a mixture of 96% Malathion and 4% diesel. Malathion is a neurotoxin.
The decision to use Malathion fog in the United States (U.S.) is based on scientific analysis of adult mosquitoes caught in traps and whether these trapped mosquitoes are carriers of diseases. Has the Ministry of Health or its divisions conducted any investigations on any disease carrying mosquito populations in our communities before they are fogged? What is the science behind the decision to use the last resort of fogging in our communities?
Fogging reduces the adult mosquito populations by 60% and only for a short period of time. It has no effect on the larvae and pupae stages which eventually mature and repopulate the communities quickly.
Unless in cases of widespread disease outbreak of epidemic proportions, fogging amplifies the mosquito problem as it ends up killing the mosquitoes’ natural predator, the insectivorous bats and beneficial pollinators. According to the US National Pesticide and Information Centre (USNPIC), “Malathion is highly toxic to bees and other beneficial insects, some fish, and other aquatic life and moderately toxic to other fish and birds”. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.EPA.) has stated that “Malathion is potentially hazardous to avian species at application rates above 2.5 lbs active ingredient/acres”. Is our Ministry of Health or the Insect Vector Control Division aware of the concentrations of Malathion being applied especially at close range in residential areas? Is there any post-malathion fogging monitoring being done in communities to determine the efficacy of malathion in controlling mosquito populations or its environmental impact on bees and other beneficial insects and aquatic life? The safety and effectiveness of Malathion has not been evaluated for the past 21 years by the U.S.E.P.A. If the human and ecosystem risks of the repetitive cumulative exposure to malathion is unknown, shouldn’t we investigate these risks and until then shouldn’t we exercise the precautionary principle? And if spraying is the only option in an epidemic situation, why haven’t our officials explored organic sprays, that are not neurotoxic?
Fogging creates a false sense of security because of its limited effectiveness. It endangers the health of our communities and threatens beneficial pollinators whilst averting the much-needed attention from the required preventive measures.
We need a systematic approach to controlling mosquito populations. Shouldn’t neurotoxin fogging be a last resort? Shouldn’t more focus be placed on longterm preventive measures and creating awareness amongst our communities who have a critical role to play in controlling the spread of mosquito borne diseases? What is our Governments year-round systematic sanitation drive?
Has our administration adopted preventative and alternate control measures such as removing the mosquito habitats which would eradicate mosquitoes at the larval stage; embarked on biological mosquito control programs; or developed an Integrated Pest Management Plan which focuses on pest prevention, pest reduction, and the elimination of conditions that lead to pest infestations?
The late Professor Dave Chadee of the University of the West Indies, indicated “the need for broad-based environmental sanitation strategies for the control of mosquito populations in Trinidad and Tobago” in a research article published in the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 1995. Unless preventive measures are first exhausted, we risk ecosystem imbalances such as the decimation of insectivorous bats and beneficial pollinators, and the cumulative impacts of long-term neurotoxin poisoning in dense roadside communities?