Inhaling smoke emitted by mosquito coils and incense sticks is not only harmful to the lungs, but can also cause cancer, said Sundeep Salvi, director of Chest Research Foundation, Pune, here on Friday.
Dr. Salvi, who spoke on ‘Indoor pollution and asthma’ at the 48th National Conference of Indian College of Allergy, Asthma and Applied Immunology at JSS Hospital, claimed that research by the foundation had shown that mosquito coils and incense sticks contain carcinogens, while studies in Taiwan and China had established their link with lung cancer.
“Burning one mosquito coil in a closed room amounts to smoking roughly 100 cigarettes,” Dr. Salvi said.
While the emission from the burning of incense sticks, used commonly during religious occasions in India, is toxic as it contains lead, iron and manganese, he said the pesticide ‘pyrethrin’ in mosquito coils is harmful for the lungs.
The no-smoke coils, marketed by the companies, may have less particulate matter, but they emit a high level of carbon monoxide, which is unsafe for the lungs, he added.
Though studies are yet to be conducted on mosquito repellent mats and liquidators, he said the gaseous pollution they cause are ‘a strong irritant for the lungs’.
Dr. Salvi said the foundation had recently conducted research in 22 villages near Pune, which showed that 65 per cent of the households keep both the doors and windows closed while using mosquito coils, which accentuates the effect of inhaling toxic fumes.
P.A. Mahesh, professor, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, JSS Medical College, who is also the organising secretary of the conference, said studies showing that carcinogenic content in mosquito coils and incense sticks were conducted recently. “Mosquitoes are found only in temperate zones like India and China. So, no research had been conducted in Europe or the U.S., which are cold zones,” he added.
Vector- borne disease
Referring to the challenge posed by vector-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya and malaria, Dr. Mahesh said fixing mosquito screens to windows and doors is one of the solutions. “A mosquito net around the bed is the best solution,” he added.
Contending that studies had shown that mosquito repellents contain volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde, Dr. Mahesh said a resolution against the use of mosquito repellents in the interest of the public would be communicated to the Union government.