Department of General Medicine
Mosquito Coils were first discovered by Japanese business man, Elichiro Ueyama in 1890. At that time in Japan people were mixing pyrethrum powder ( which is derived from dried Chrysanthemum flowers for its insecticidal properties) with sawdust and burnt in a brazier(a portable heater consisting of a pan or stand for holding lighted coals) to keep mosquitoes away. Elichiro Ueyama and his wife refined his incense sticks until in 1905 they developed the spiral coil we know today. While originally produced from natural pyrethrum, mosquito coils are now mostly made with a pyrethroid, a synthetic form of pyrethrum. This is done to increase stability,as natural pyrethrum is degraded by sunlight and becomes ineffective after a some hours of direct sunlight, where as a pyrethroid will not degrade as quickly.
There is no doubt that mosquito coils are effectual, they work by masking our scent and body heat from the mosquito. This is attained by the smoky plume released by the coils.
We all know the dangers of smoking, from both direct inhalation and 2nd hand smoke. Burning mosquito coils indoors is a common way to control mosquitoes effectively in homes, and are widely used in countries of Asia, South America and Africa and However, the smoke that is emitted by these mosquito coils may contain pollutants that can cause serious health problems. Studies that tested this smoke have found significant amounts of volatile organic products in it, including carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals).
The smoke from 1 mosquito coil burnt from beginning to end releases particulates into the air that are equivalent to between 75 and 135 cigarettes. Some studies have found prolonged use of this coils to be harmful to several organs in the body; this can lead to shortness of breath,corneal damage to the eye, asthma, damage to the liver in long term use and even fertility issues may cause in both men and women.
Formaldehyde has also been found in the smoker eleased by mosquito coils. The amount of formaldehyde liberated by a single mosquito is the same as 50 cigarettes! Formaldehyde is not an ingredient in this coils but a by product generated when the coils are burnt. Formaldehyde primarily affects the nose and inhaling it can cause sore throat, watery eyes, wheezing, coughing,nausea and skin irritations etc. Formaldehyde has also linked to nasal and sinus cancers and leukaemia.
Some recent studies of mosquito coils in Asia and the US have found an unlisted ingredient in unregistered coils present for sale from China. This chemical is called Otachlorodipropyl Ether or S-2, this is a synergist used in mosquito coils to increase the efficacy of the active ingredient. While the active ingredient in mosquito coils, usually one type of Allethrin or any another, is safe to humans, the S-2 synergist is highly dangerous to humans. When burnt by the smoken mosquito coil S-2 degenerates into BCME, (Bis Chloromethyl Ether). It is an extremely potent lung carcinogen; some believe that it to be the most potent carcinogen known.
As with any effective chemical insect repellent the side effects must be weighed against the benefits. Always be aware of the potential dangers in any chemicals you use around your family and friends and always use them in well ventilated areas.
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It is any effect of a drug, chemical, or other medicine that is in addition to its intended effect, especially an effect that is harmful or unpleasant.