Every time people hear the chugging noise of the fogging machines used by the Greater Hyderabad Muncipal Corporation (GHMC) while spraying the anti-mosquito spray, they find themselves coughing amidst a huge cloud of smoke, while others try to shield themselves. But, ever wondered what exactly the GHMC uses to spray and whether the spray is safe? If you have, then the answer is no, according to experts and doctors from the city.
A reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed that the GHMC uses organo-phosphates which can prove to be harmful to the human body, and may even damage the nervous system. Not only that, the query also revealed that the GHMC officials have not conducted any study to check the effects of chemicals used in the mosquito control operations. The information which was sought by RTI activist Syed Ali Shah Hussaini, also stated that organo-phosphate chemicals temephos, fenthion, malathion, and DDT are used in the operations.
Other chemicals include those such as pyrosene oil, a petroluem chemical. Both doctors and environmental experts said that the above mentioned chemicals are harmful to human beings, especially if they are directly sprayed. “Organo-phosphates affect those enzymes released from the nervous system. Only if the chemicals are sprayed very cautiously, and made sure that people do not come in direct contact with it, they can be safe,” pointed out Dr Mohd Masood Hussain, director, Ronald Ross Institute of Parasitology.
Hussaini, who sought the information also felt that there has to be a study to know the effects of the usage of such chemicals. “At least there must be some preliminary testing among animals, to assert what kind of side effects humans may face,” he said. Ramesh Chandra, senior environmental scientist from the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board also confirmed that the chemicals used by the GHMC are harmful when sprayed on human beings. “They are all just pesticides, and of them DDT is even banned in foreign countries,” he said.
Dr Hussain, also warned that spraying of the chemicals directly in public, especially in market places will do more harm than good. “The best way to prevent mosquito bites and malaria is to use mosquito nets. That is the oldest and best system. It is still followed in many advancec nations even now,” he mentioned. When contacted, V Venkatesh, chief entomologist, GHMC, said that all the chemicals being used were as per the guidelines from the Govt of India, and the director of health of the state.