Wednesday, 25 May, 2022

Double whammy for city dwellers

City dwellers are now beset with two problems -- they are enduring a mosquito menace on the one hand and facing health risk from substandard mosquito coils on the other hand.

The market is now flooded with low-quality mosquito coils for lack of proper monitoring by the authorities concerned.

Mosquito coils are being manufactured illegally in many unauthorised factories that were set up in different parts of the country, including the capital.

Unscrupulous traders are releasing coils produced using excessive chemicals in the market. These coils are harmful for human health, experts said.

Besides, the dishonest traders are dodging VAT and taxes.

Md Aminur Islam, additional deputy director (Pesticide Quality Control), Plant Protection Wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), said mosquito coils of different brands available in the market are tested at their laboratory every month.

“It has been found that low-quality pesticides are being used in mosquito coils up to 3-5 times higher than the permissible level. Many others are using those lower than the permissible one. Both are bad,” he told the Daily Sun.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the use of a maximum 0.03 per cent ‘active ingredient’ in mosquito coils is allowed. But the toxic material in the mosquito coils available in the country’s market is above 4-5 per cent.

People are suffering from a variety of complex diseases for using low-quality mosquito coils as pesticides are used in those more than the permissible level.

Sources said substandard mosquito factories were established in various parts of the country, including Mohammadpur, Jatrabari, Savar, Tongi, Bhairab and Narayanganj. Those are running without any laboratory and chemist. Most of those factories were built in a room or a house.

Aminur Islam said: “If pesticides are used higher than the permissible level,

other animals will die instead of mosquitoes. Besides, it’ll be a threat to public health. If it’s lower than the permissible level, it’ll help mosquitoes get stronger.”

“We’ve seized and destroyed mosquito coils of many brands for not maintaining quality. We’ve also revoked licences of many brands,” he said.

Experts said people are suffering from various diseases, including asthma, kidney problem and even cancer, due to the extreme use of low-quality pesticides in mosquito coils.

Sources said there are over 150 listed companies importing and marketing about 600 types of mosquito coils and spray-making pesticides in the country.

The most common active ingredients in coils are permethrin, bioallethrin, D-trans-allethrin, deltamethrin and metofluthrin.

Different generics of different brands are used in the ingredients of these mosquito drugs. There are different types of drug for different types of mosquito with one type effective for adult mosquitoes while another for larvae.

Apart from pesticides used in crops, the Plant Protection Wing of the DAE provides licences for mosquito drugs.

Sources said new registration for mosquito coils and sprays remained closed for two and half years due to the spread of low-quality mosquito coils across the country.

But the DAE wing has recently decided to receive applications for new licences of mosquito coils, according to a competent source in the DAE.

Dr Goutam Sen, a chest disease specialist at Universal Medical College Hospital, told the Daily Sun: “As mosquito coils use various types of pesticide, people who have asthma and breathing complications may suffer if they use those.”

“Besides, general people will also suffer from various respiratory problems if they use mosquito coils regularly,” he added.

On February 3, an illegal mosquito coil factory was sealed off and fined Tk 1 lakh by a mobile court of Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI). Several thousand mosquito coils were also seized at that time.

Led by Executive Magistrate Nafisa Naz Nira, the mobile court operation was conducted in Chand Udyan Housing Area in the city’s Mohammadpur area with the help of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

Without BSTI licence, mosquito coils of Lamia Super, Lamia Tulsi Pata, Lamia Gold, Lamia Jumbo and Lamia Amia King brands were being manufactured by Lamia Super Mosquito Coil located in the area.

The mobile court imposed the fine for selling, distributing and marketing mosquito coils using BSTI logo and monogram.

A truckload of coils worth about Tk 2 lakh was also seized at that time.