Contributing writer for Wake Up World
On my first trip to India about a decade ago, I distinctly remember when the plane landed, the interior of the aircraft was sprayed by the flight attendants — with all the passengers still in it. A vague announcement had been made beforehand, claiming everything needed to be disinfected. At the time, I wasn’t thrilled about some unknown aerosol being forced upon us, but promptly forgot about it. I never encountered it again during subsequent international air travel, and simply thought it was a fluke with that particular flight.
Jump to the present and a series of articles have come across the news wire recently, bringing attention to the fact that the practice is alive and well. But it isn’t always obvious — often, the interior surfaces are treated with a residual spray before passengers board. As it turns out, the aerosol isn’t a disinfectant at all, but actually a pesticide and neurotoxin that has been linked to a range of health issues — like cancer, endocrine disruption and autoimmune disorders.
The first question that comes to mind regarding the spraying of pesticides on airplanes is a resounding why? Why would insecticides be sprayed throughout a pressurized tube with recirculated air, where people — children, pregnant women and the elderly included — are captive for hours at a time?
For the World Health Organization (WHO), the answer is simple:bugs. Those nasty pests who spread unpleasant diseases like malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever — and now the Zika Virus, as well as insects that can seriously damage crops. The practice is known as “disinsection” and it’s considered a public health measure, one that is mandated by International Health Regulations.
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