HYDERABAD: Chinese-made electric mosquito bats (EMBs) are harming the environment in India. A study conducted by researchers at the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Lab of the Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology(C-MET) in Hyderabad has reported high amounts of highly toxic lead in different components used in the contraptions.
The bats, which look like tennis racquets and are sold at city intersections by impromptu vendors, kill mosquitos by delivering a small charge of electricity upon contact. They have become a common tool in Indian households to ward off mosquitoes.
A large percentage of the EMBs sold in India are imported from China. Reports available online suggest that at least two lakh EMBs were imported from China to India from February to November 2016. They have been available in India for at least a decade now.
Researchers at RoHS evaluated the concentration of lead in different components – wiring, printed circuit boards -- of Chinese-made EMBs and found that concentrations varied between 3,000 parts per million (ppm) to 82,000 ppm.
One of the researchers, Dr U Rambabu, a scientist and quality manager at C-MET, said, "The value of lead detected in some components of EMBs is much higher than the compliance values set by the European Union's RoHS Directive which permits a maximum concentration value (MCV) of lead in electronic goods at less than 1,000 ppm.”
India’s E-Waste (Management) Rules follow the EU recommendation.
When discarded mosquito bats reach dumping yards they leach lead and other toxic substances into the soil and the groundwater, the study found.
There are chances that children might put these EMBs in their mouth and ingest lead, which can affect their intellectual capabilities.
The mosquito bats do not have a long life and are often discarded along with household waste, rather than turn them over to e-waste disposal facilities.
As per a 2013 report of the World Health Organization, lead poisoning annually causes 143,000 deaths and contributes to 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities.