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Fumigation drive to contain dengue proves costly for environment

A few months back the civic agencies were on a spree slapping fines for burning leaves, claiming to control air pollution but in the rush to fight the outbreak of dengue they have infused nearly 1.5 lakh kg of poison into the air and almost the same quantity of poison into the surface of water bodies to kill mosquito larvae.

Surprisingly, the civic agencies themselves opined that fogging/fumigation cannot kill <g data-gr-id="39">mosquitoes</g> but they are forced to do it under public pressure and just for their psychological satisfaction. The Municipal Health Officers themselves argue that the public should be more vigilant about precautionary measures rather than forcing them to add poison in the already poisonous air of Delhi.

The Corporations, in order to stop mosquito breeding and to kill the adult mosquitoes, take scores of measures in which anti-larval sprays and fogging/fumigation top the list. Anti-larval sprays contain Temephos EC, BTI (WP) and MLO (both insecticides made with petroleum products) which are hazardous to health. While spraying, it creates a layer over water and helps in making the air vacuum which stops breeding. 

The Corporations, in order to stop <g data-gr-id="48">breeding</g> has sprayed approximately 1.5 lakh kg material consisting all the three items. The North Corporation alone has used over 80,000 kg while the South MCD has used nearly 50,000 kg material till the middle of this week. In the anti-adult mosquito breeding measure, a mixture of Pyrethrum, Malathion and Alphacypher is used through fogging/fumigation. As it contains hazardous ingredients it affects the respiratory system of people. It proves extremely dangerous to old-age people, pregnant women, children and ailing individuals.

“There is an understanding that fogging/ fumigation activities kill adult mosquitoes but is not true at all. Rather than killing mosquitoes, it develops diseases in the people. It affects the respiratory system with <g data-gr-id="38">breathing</g> problem and lung infection,” said Dr Sanjevv Naiyar, a medical practitioner and Corporation councillor from Paschim Vihar area.

Statistics of all three Corporations has revealed that nearly one lakh kg mixture has been used in the recent past while a huge stock has been stored to tackle to dengue menace.

The environmentalists claim that excess fogging affects the environment as Malathion, Pyrethrum, Alphacypher, etc kill all kinds of insects. This includes hundreds of species of insects that pollinate crops and keep pests under control. Malathion is known to contaminate <g data-gr-id="43">water,</g> and is classified as highly toxic. 

“As these pesticides are harmful, their use should be done in extreme cases only. In some countries, use of Malathion is totally banned. Once it mixes in the air, it pollutes the air up to a certain level and in water it reduces the oxygen level which is very harmful,” said Manoj Mishra, an environmental activist.

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