Brit-itch Airways: Plane flies on despite bosses knowing it was infested with bloodsucking bed bugs

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Bug brother…BA jet was infested with BedBugs but airline bosses kept it flying and in service!  Passengers were bitten by infectious BED BUGS on BA flight.

February 25, 2016 | by Stephen Moyes | The Sun

A BRITISH Airways jet infested with bed bugs was allowed to keep flying as there was no time to disinfect it, staff claim.

Cabin crew logged the issue because passengers were bitten but bosses decided to keep the aircraft in service.

Staff hit out after the critters were spotted on a Boeing 747 from the US to Heathrow last week.

Coming to a seat near you ... close-up of a bed bug

Coming to a seat near you…aisle or window?

One passenger was nipped at 30,000ft and others saw the bugs and their eggs.

The problem was so serious that row 47 in the economy section was closed. But BA workers claim engineers did not have time to kill the creatures between flights.

The plane took off again and crew again had to deal with the bugs. Days later another “severe” infestation was reported as the jet flew from Cape Town to London.Last night it was claimed bugs were also seen on other flights by the 747 — now fully fumigated.

One passenger said: “This turns my stomach.”

A BA spokesman said: “Reports of bed bugs on board are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we continually monitor our aircraft.”

Blood suckers

BED bugs are small blood-sucking insects that live in cracks and crevices in and around beds or chairs.

Attracted by body heat and carbon dioxide, they bite exposed skin and feed on blood. Adult bed bugs look like lentils, oval, flat and up to 5mm long.

An infestation from one female can rise to 5,000 bed bugs in six months.

Mark Krafft last year took pics of bites he said he suffered on BA, below.

Vicious ... bed bug bites allegedly inflicted on BA passenger Mark Krafft last year
Vicious … bed bug bites allegedly inflicted on BA passenger Mark Krafft last year

A BA spokesman said: “Whenever any report of bed bugs is received, we launch a thorough investigation and, if appropriate, remove the aircraft from service and use specialist teams to treat it.

“The presence of bed bugs is an issue faced occasionally by hotels and airlines all over the world.

“British Airways operates more than 280,000 flights every year, and reports of bed bugs on board are extremely rare.

“Nevertheless, we are vigilant about the issue and continually monitor our aircraft.”

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Bed Bugs Found on British Airways Flight – U.S. to Heathrow

Bed Bugs Found on British Airways Flight

February 26, 2016 | by Clover Hope | Jezebel

A British Airways plane was taken out of service last week after bed bugs were discovered when the crew tried to stuff extra large carry-ons into an overhead compartment.

Since the bugs (two of them) were found between flights, in row 47, the crew claims it wasn’t able to remove them in time.

“This isn’t a bed… It’s a plane!” one bug reportedly said to the other.

The Sun reports:

Cabin crew logged the issue because passengers were bitten but bosses decided to keep the aircraft in service.

Staff hid out after the critters were spotted on a Boeing 747 from the US to Heathrow last week.

One passenger was nipped at 30,000ft and others saw the bugs and their eggs.

A spokeswoman for British Airways told Mashable otherwise: “We wouldn’t let a plane continue to fly if we knew it had an issue.” Hmmm.

The plane was later fumigated, but it’s more likely the bugs decided to disembark on their own after realizing the plane wasn’t a bed.

The company rep adds, “Whenever any report of bed bugs is received, we launch a thorough investigation and, if appropriate, remove the aircraft from service and use specialist teams to treat it—this happened in this instance.”

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Messing with BedBugs’ Genes Could Carry Other Risks?

Bed Bugs Will Outlive All Of Us Unless We Screw With Their Genes

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photo:  Bluejake/Sara Bibi/Gothamist

Bed bugs, like cockroaches and new seasons of The Bachelor, seem impossible to eradicate from the face of the Earth, no matter how many exterminators our landlords call to spray that one time and then never, ever again. But Science says there’s some small hope for the extinction of a moviegoer’s biggest fear—screwing with their genome.

Scientists have managed to map the genome of the common bed bug, revealing some fun things about the little suckers. For instance, bed bugs are actually able to break down toxins, like the ones an exterminator might use, to render them harmless, allowing them to survive even when you try to whack them with bug killer. They’ve also been MUTATING, producing genes that make them resistant to certain insecticides and making it all the more difficult to eradicate an infestation. Another fun fact is that bugs’ genes vary from location to location—a Brooklyn bed bug will have a different genetic sequence from a Queens bed bug, though both are equally disgusting.

Bed bugs also inbreed, and their sex is quite violent. This violent sex has been well-documented, and for those of you who have not yet seen Isabella Rossellini’s bed bug porno, you’re welcome, and sorry:

The takeaway here is that bed bugs have been able to hold us hostage for a long time, but scientists might be able to murder them, provided they make a few genetic tweaks. First, though, let’s kill all the mosquitoes.

[A. Steiner:  So…..Messing with Genes Could Carry Other Risks – YES!]

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Genome of BedBug shows close relationships to Kissing Bug, one of several vectors for deadly Chagas disease, and the body louse. Both have tight associations with humans.

February 2, 2016 | News from Weill Cornell Medical College

Researchers Sequence First Bedbug Genome.  Scientists have assembled the first complete genome of one of humanity’s oldest and least-loved companions: the bedbug. The new work, led by researchers at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine, and published Feb. 2 in Nature Communications, could help combat pesticide resistance in the unwelcome parasite. The data also provides a rich genetic resource for mapping bedbug activity in human hosts and in cities, including subways.

male and female bedbugs – both fed and unfed – comparison with apple seeds

“Bedbugs are one of New York City’s most iconic living fossils, along with cockroaches, meaning that their outward appearance has hardly changed throughout their long lineage,” said one of the paper’s corresponding authors Dr. George Amato, director of the museum’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics. “But despite their static look, we know that they continue to evolve, mostly in ways that make it harder for humans to dissociate with them. This work gives us the genetic basis to explore the bedbug’s basic biology and its adaptation to dense human environments.”

The common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) has been coupled with humans for thousands of years. This species is found in temperate regions and prefers to feed on human blood. In recent decades, the prevalence of heated homes and global air travel has accelerated infestations in urban areas, where bedbugs have constant access to blood meals and opportunities to migrate to new hosts. A resurgence in bedbug infestations since the late 1990s is largely associated with the evolution of the insects’ resistance to known pesticides, many of which are not suitable for indoor application.

“Bedbugs all but vanished from human lives in the 1940s because of the widespread use of DDT, but unfortunately, overuse contributed to resistance issues quite soon after that in bedbugs and other insect pests,” said Louis Sorkin, an author on the paper and a senior scientific assistant in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology. “Today, a very high percentage of bedbugs have genetic mutations that make them resistant to the insecticides that were commonly used to battle these urban pests. This makes the control of bedbugs extremely labor intensive.”

The researchers extracted DNA and RNA from preserved and living collections, including samples from a population that was first collected in 1973 and has been maintained by museum staff members since then. RNA was sampled from males and females representing each of the bug’s six life stages, before and after blood meals, in order to paint a full picture of the bedbug genome.

When compared with 20 other arthropod genomes, the genome of the common bedbug shows close relationships to the kissing bug (Rhodnius prolixus), one of several vectors for Chagas disease, and the body louse (Pediculus humanus), which both have tight associations with humans.

Click here to read complete article.

 

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Bed Bugs show resistance to pesticides: What to do now? Build a wall!

Why chemicals used to fight bed bugs aren’t working any longer was revealed in a new study that compared today’s bed bugs with those that have been isolated in a lab for 30 years.

February 1, 2016 | by Lonnie Shekhtman  | The Christian Science Monitor

The chemicals used to fight bed bug infestations are no longer working, say scientists from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and New Mexico State University. The tiny pests have developed a resistance to the most commonly used type of insecticides, called neonicotinoids, or neonics, which is part of the reason there has been a resurgence of them in the last couple of decades.

“While we all want a powerful tool to fight bed bug infestations, what we are using as a chemical intervention is not working as effectively it was designed and, in turn, people are spending a lot of money on products that aren’t working,” Troy Anderson, an assistant professor of entomology in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said in an announcement last week.

In an experiment, researchers compared bed bugs from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan that had been previously exposed to neonics with those that a researcher has kept isolated in a lab for 30 years, dating back to a time before the insecticides were used commercially.

In results published Thursday in the Journal of Medical Entomology, Dr. Anderson and Alvaro Romero, an assistant professor of entomology at New Mexico State University, reported that the bed bugs that had been isolated in a lab for 30 years died when treated with a small amount of neonics. Those collected from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan showed much higher resistance to the chemical treatment.

The team also tested bedbugs from New Jersey that were already resistant to pyrethroids, another class of widely used insecticides often mixed with neonics, but had been isolated from neonics since 2008. Those bugs were more susceptible to the insecticides than the ones from Cincinnati and Michigan, but not as much as the isolated bedbugs.

“Companies need to be vigilant for hints of declining performance of products that contain neonicotinoids,” Dr. Romero said in a study announcement.

“For example, bed bugs persisting on previously treated surfaces might be an indication of resistance. In these cases, laboratory confirmation of resistance is advised, and if resistance is detected, products with different modes of action need to be considered, along with the use of non-chemical methods,” he said.

Bed bugs are particularly burdensome in apartment buildings, where they can spread to many units. They are also more problematic for low-income, elderly, and disabled people who can’t spot the tiny red bug and often don’t have the means to get rid of them, say researchers from Virginia Tech.

Bed bugs thrive in beds, couches, and around electrical outlets and cause hundreds of bites a night.

“When well-off people get bed bugs, it’s an inconvenience. But when low-income families get them, there aren’t many options,” said Molly Stedfast, who worked with bed bugs as a graduate entomology student at Virginia Tech in 2013.

“Those who can’t afford the treatments,” she says, often end up living with bed bugs for a long time.

Virginia Tech’s pest lab recommends a nontoxic, non-neonic treatment that can be applied to the inside perimeter of an apartment. The treatment is diatomaceous earth, a dust made from fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. Researchers said this dust has been used to control pests for more than a century. It clings to the bed bugs as they walk through it, absorbs moisture, and kills them via dehydration.

“We treat the perimeter of the apartment to isolate infestations in one unit and not allow them to spread. It is a lot less expensive to treat one apartment than every unit in the building,” said Dini Miller, a professor of entomology at Virginia Tech.

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Rise of the SUPER PESTS: Bed Bugs are resistant to common insecticides. Use of non-chemical methods need to be considered to eradicate Bed Bugs.

  • Scientists tested resistance of four populations to neonicotinoids 
  • They found bugs in Michigan and Cincinnati were resistant to certain types 
  • This means sprays used to kill the bugs aren’t very effective
  • Rise in infestations blamed on travelling, as bugs hitch a ride on clothes

January 28, 2016 | by Sarah Griffiths | MailOnline

They live in the cracks and crevices of beds and crawl out a night to suck blood by detecting our body heat and carbon dioxide.

Now the much loathed bed bug is threatening to become even more of a pest because it is resistant to a common insecticide, scientists warn.

Exotic holidays have been blamed for the recent resurgence of bed bugs in homes as they hitch a ride on clothing or in luggage.

The blood-sucking bed bug (pictured) that's attracted to our body heat and carbon dioxide is threatening to become even more of a pest because it is resistant to a common insecticide, scientists warn.

The blood-sucking bed bug (pictured) that’s attracted to our body heat and carbon dioxide is threatening to become even more of a pest because it is resistant to a common insecticide, scientists warn.

The research has found the parasites have developed a tolerance to neonicotinoids, or neonics, because of their widespread use.

“people are spending a lot of money on products that aren’t working”

It is the first study to show the overuse of certain insecticides has led to an increased resistance to the compounds, making them much less effective than advertised.

In the US alone, millions of dollars are spent on the most widely used commercial chemicals to kill bedbugs, but their overuse has led to an increased resistance to the compounds.

Assistant professor Troy Anderson, from Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said: ‘While we all want a powerful tool to fight bed bug infestations, what we are using as a chemical intervention is not working as effectively it was designed and, in turn, people are spending a lot of money on products that aren’t working.

New research has found the parasites have developed a tolerance to neonicotinoids, or neonics, because of their widespread use. A stock image of  fumigation is pictured

New research has found the parasites have developed a tolerance to neonicotinoids, or neonics, because of their widespread use. A stock image of fumigation is pictured.

WHERE INFESTATIONS BEGIN

In 2014, genetic tests revealed that a single undetected pregnant bed bug is all it takes to start an entire infestation.

A DNA study at Sheffield University showed colonies of bed bugs come from a common ancestor or a few of the female bed bugs.

The pregnant bed bug could rapidly create a colony of thousands that feed on humans.

Researchers told the BBC that bed bugs’ ability to generate a new colony from such small numbers might be a ‘clue to their recent success’.

‘If you just miss one, they can grow very quickly,’ Professor Roger Butlin said, adding it takes only a few weeks for this to happen.

Bed bugs are capable of surviving without feeding for a month as they wait for a human.

In the late 1880s, an estimated 75 per cent of households were affected, but by the outbreak of World War II, that figure had dwindled to 25 per cent,

Their recent resurgence has been blamed by some experts on resistance to commonly used insecticides and international travel.

‘Unfortunately, the insecticides we were hoping would help solve some of our bed bug problems are no longer as effective as they used to be, so we need to re-evaluate some of our strategies for fighting them.’

Products developed to eradicate infestations in recent years combine both neonics with pyrethroids – another class of insecticide.

Assistant Professor Dr Alvaro Romero from New Mexico State University added: ‘If resistance is detected, products with different modes of action need to be considered, along with the use of non-chemical methods.

‘Companies need to be vigilant for hints of declining performance of products that contain neonicotinoids.

‘For example, bed bugs persisting on previously treated surfaces might be an indication of resistance.

‘In these cases, laboratory confirmation of resistance is advised, and if resistance is detected, products with different modes of action need to be considered, along with the use of non-chemical methods.’

The study, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, is the first to confirm the resistance.

Researchers collected bed bugs from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan and exposed them to four different neonics: acetamiprid, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.

In the US alone, millions of dollars are spent on the most widely used commercial chemicals to kill bedbugs (microscopic image shown) but their overuse has led to an increased resistance to the compounds.

They also used the chemicals on a bed bug colony kept free of insecticide exposure for more than 30 years and to a pyrethroid-resistant population from Jersey City that had not been exposed to neonics since they were collected in 2008.

Those that hadn’t been exposed to the neonics died after contact with very small amounts of the pesticide, while the Jersey City bed bugs showed moderate resistance to acetamiprid and dinotefuran, but not to imidacloprid or thiamethoxam.

The Jersey City colony’s resistance could be due to pre-existing resistance mechanisms.

When exposed to insecticides, bed bugs produce ‘detoxifying enzymes’ to counter them.

Researchers collected bed bugs from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan and exposed them to four different neonics - acetamiprid, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. A stock image of fumegation is shown

Researchers collected bed bugs from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan and exposed them to four different neonics – acetamiprid, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. A stock image of fumegation is shown

THE CHEMICALS AND BED BUGS

The levels of detoxifying enzymes in the Jersey City bed bugs were higher than those of the susceptible Harlan population.

The Michigan and Cincinnati bed bugs, which were collected after combinations of pyrethroids and neonicotinoids were introduced, had even higher levels of resistance to neonics.

It only took 0.3 nanograms of acetamiprid to kill 50% of the non-resistant bed bugs from Dr Harlan’s lab, but it took more than 10,000 nanograms to kill 50% of the Michigan and Cincinnati bed bugs.

Just 2.3 nanograms of imidacloprid was enough to kill 50% t of the Harlan bed bugs, but it took 1,064 and 365 nanograms to kill the Michigan and Cincinnati bed bugs.

The numbers were similar for dinotefuran and thiamethoxam.

Compared to the Harlan control group, the Michigan bed bugs were 462 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 198 times more resistant to dinotefuran, 546 times more resistant to thiamethoxam, and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid.

The Cincinnati bed bugs were 163 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 226 times more resistant to thiamethoxam, 358 times more resistant to dinotefuran, and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid.

The levels of detoxifying enzymes in the Jersey City bed bugs were higher than those of the susceptible Harlan population.

Professor Romero explained: ‘Elevated levels of detoxifying enzymes induced by other classes of insecticides might affect the performance of newer insecticides.’

The Michigan and Cincinnati bed bugs, which were collected after combinations of pyrethroids and neonicotinoids were introduced, had even higher levels of resistance to neonics.

It only took 0.3 nanograms of acetamiprid to kill 50 per cent of the non-resistant bed bugs from Dr Harlan’s lab, but it took more than 10,000 nanograms to kill 50 per cent of the Michigan and Cincinnati bed bugs.

Just 2.3 nanograms of imidacloprid was enough to kill 50 per cent of the Harlan bed bugs, but it took 1,064 and 365 nanograms to kill the Michigan and Cincinnati bed bugs, respectively.

The numbers were similar for dinotefuran and thiamethoxam.

Compared to the Harlan control group, the Michigan bed bugs were 462 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 198 times more resistant to dinotefuran, 546 times more resistant to thiamethoxam, and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid.

The Cincinnati bed bugs were 163 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 226 times more resistant to thiamethoxam, 358 times more resistant to dinotefuran, and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid.

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Bed Bugs have Developed Resistance to most widely used Insecticide, Neonicotinoids.

If neonicotinoids no longer work against the elusive and resilient creatures, bed bugs will continue to thrive despite exterminators’ efforts.

Bed bugs are most often found in human dwellings such as apartments, condominiums, single-family homes, hotels, motels, movie theaters, libraries, dormitories, trains, buses, planes, workplace, waiting rooms and the list goes on.

“different modes … need to be considered, along with the use of non-chemical methods.”

January 28, 2016 | by Mahita Gajanan | The Guardian

Bed bugs have developed a resistance to neonicotinoids, a group of the most widely used insecticides, according to a new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

Products developed over the past few years to control bed bugs combine neonicotinoids, or neonics, with pyrethroids, another class of insecticide.

The newly found resistance to neonics has real implications for people who need to control the pest, which are most often found in human dwellings such as apartments or condominiums, single-family homes and hotels or motels, according to the 2015 Bugs Without Borders Survey. Neonics are the most commonly used insecticide to fight the already elusive and resilient bed bugs, and if they no longer work, bed bugs will continue to thrive despite exterminators’ efforts.

Study authors Alvaro Romero, from New Mexico State University, and Troy Anderson, from Virginia Tech, discovered the resistance by collecting bed bugs from human dwellings in Cincinnati and Michigan and exposing them to four different neonics: acetamiprid, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.

Romero and Anderson applied the same neonics to a bed bug colony kept by entomologist Harold Harlan for more than 30 years without exposure to insecticide, and to a pyrethroid-resistant population from Jersey City, New Jersey, that had not been exposed to neonics since 2008.

Harlan’s bed bugs died after exposure to small amounts of neonics. The Jersey City bed bugs died when exposed to imidacloprid and thiamethoxam but resisted the other two neonics.

According to Romero and Anderson, the neonic resistance in the Jersey City bed bugs could be credited to pre-existing resistance mechanisms. Bed bugs produce “detoxifying enzymes” to counter exposure to insecticides, and the researchers found that the Jersey City bed bugs had higher levels of the enzymes than did the Harlan bed bugs.

“Elevated levels of detoxifying enzymes induced by other classes of insecticides might affect the performance of newer insecticides,” Romero said.

The bed bugs collected from Cincinnati and Michigan proved to be tougher, with a much higher resistance to neonics than the Harlan and Jersey City bed bugs. Compared with Harlan’s bed bugs, the Michigan creatures were 462 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 198 times more resistant to dinotefuran, 546 times more resistant to thiamethoxam and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid.

Similarly, the Cincinnati bed bugs were 163 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 358 times more resistant to dinotefuran, 226 times more resistant to thiamethoxam and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid.

Romero said insecticide companies should be “vigilant for hints of declining performance of products that contain neonicotinoids”.

“For example, bed bugs persisting on previously treated surfaces might be an indication of resistance,” he said. “In these cases, laboratory confirmation of resistance is advised, and if resistance is detected, products with different modes of action need to be considered, along with the use of non-chemical methods.”

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS … WHILE IN THE AIR – PESTICIDES TAKE FLIGHT?

Do you think she’s spraying Febreze?

Pesticides on Planes: How Airlines Are Softly Killing Us

Truthout.org | 16 June 2015 | By Maryam Henein

Disinsection is a routine procedure in which insecticide is either sprayed in certain aircraft cabins - while passengers are on board - or applied to the internal surfaces of the aircraft before boarding.Disinsection is a routine procedure in which insecticide is either sprayed in certain aircraft cabins – while passengers are on board – or applied to the internal surfaces of the aircraft before boarding. (Photo: Travis Olbrich/Flickr)

How many of you have felt sick following a flight, only to chalk it up to a virus or sinus infection you caught from a fellow passenger? What if I told you, you may have been poisoned by pesticides on the plane without knowing it?

If you have a fear of flying, the terror just catapulted to a whole new level.

While booking my ticket to Rome, Italy, a few weeks ago, the agent quickly read a TSA disclaimer that had me do a double take. So much so, that I stopped her in her tracks and asked her to repeat herself. Basically, if I wanted to travel, I had to agree to the airline’s right to apply pesticides on the plane. In other words, I had to willingly agree to be exposed to poisons.

The routine procedure is called Disinsection. A seemingly made up word.

Disinsection is permitted under international law in order to supposedly protect public health, agriculture, and the environment,” states the Department of Transportation.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization, certain aircraft cabins are sprayed with a ‘quick-acting insecticide’ immediately before takeoff, while passengers are on board.

Alternatively, they sometimes treat the interior of the aircraft before passengers come on board, using a “residual-insecticide aerosol.”

Lastly, they also can apply “residual insecticide to all internal surfaces of the aircraft, except those in food preparation areas.” So breath deep and make the most of that recycled air!

Chemical Attacks Amid The Friendly Skies

I personally don’t think being subject to a pesticide spray while I am stuck in a pressurized cabin is protecting my health; it’s just the opposite—it’s an assault. What happens to people with asthma or someone like me who suffers from an auto immune condition and is uber sensitive to chemicals?

When I started sharing my findings, it didn’t take long to find a victim. “I’ve been feeling like crap ever since I arrived,” says Heather Greene, a farmer from Oregon, taking the critical food studies program at GustoLab Institute with me in Rome. “My ankles swelled up and I still feel like a have a sinus infection. When I did some research I found out that I was suffering similar symptoms to others who had come into contact with insecticides on planes.”

If you are a passenger concerned about exposure or feel unwell after being sprayed while on an aircraft for disinsection, the WHO really downplays concerns and symptoms, and denies any link between illness and airline spraying. Their website states that there’s “no evidence that the specified insecticide sprays are harmful to human health when used as recommended.”

Meanwhile, individual airlines then use the WHO to justify their actions, stating things like, “Well WHO says disinsection is safe.”

I say WHO cares?

Large amounts of a mild poison, in an enclosed space over long periods of time? Do we really need science’s input on this one?

The most widely used pesticides for aircraft cabins are synthetic pyrethroids, particularly the chemicals d-phenothrin or permethrin. These are synthetic variations of a chemical found in the chrysanthemum that kills by interfering with insect nervous systems.

And they do affect human health, and not in a positive way. Take the prison guard who developed strange symptoms after being exposed. Also, multiple studies have revealed a link between permethrin and Parkinson’s disease.

“With little ventilation and in such a closed space, spraying pesticides on airplanes while passengers are still on board is troubling, particularly for sensitive groups like children, pregnant mothers, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions,” says Drew Toher Public Education Associate at Beyond Pesticides.

“Even if people are not present during spraying, pesticides applied in such an environment present a risk of residual exposure.”  Passengers and employees sealed in a chamber that has been gassed for hours.

Spraying of pesticides on planes with chemicals like phenothrin, a neurotoxin, carries the risk of causing cancer and auto-immune diseases as lupus, Parkinson’s disease and memory loss among others.

Residual disinsection has been found to pose a hazard to flight attendants.

Accumulating Effects

Delta for instance, claims it doesn’t spray while passengers are on board, treating with residual applicants or spraying before passengers board instead. And then one in every eight weeks the entire plane is immersed in a “cloud of stuff” for extra precaution measures. Incidentally, the wait time before humans board is only 45 minutes following an application.

Check before you fly with your airline carrier on what they use for “disinsection” (pesticide procedure) in their planes, esp. if you are flying international.

Should fliers worry about pesticide spraying on planes?

Such “disinfection” occurs every day [airline passengers being sprayed with pesticides before flights] in countries all around the world. And, yes, even U.S. airlines engage in certain forms of the practice, though usually spraying is not done when passengers are onboard. As for the debate over the potential dangers of spraying vs. the potential dangers of airborne diseases? It’s an issue many affected passengers clearly need to know more about—prior to booking.

To spray or not to spray

It can be disconcerting to suddenly be sprayed with pesticides while locked in a pressurized tube. I’ve experienced this myself in several countries, most recently four years ago in India. Conversely, we’ve seen time and again how quickly air travel can allow insect vectors to transmit such deadly diseases as malaria and yellow fever. There is a need for greater information about both types of dangers.

The methods used to disinsect can vary by destination and airline. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations-chartered International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have established two primary methods: 1) spraying aerosol insecticides in the cabin while passengers are onboard, and 2) treating the airplane’s interior surfaces with a residual insecticide when passengers are not onboard. A third method—often used in Panama and American Samoa—is to spray the cabin when passengers are not on board.

If you’ll be flying internationally and you’d like to know more about airline policies on pesticides, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) provides a detailed overview of what to expect at “Aircraft Disinsection Requirements.” This page, which was recently updated, states the following countries currently require aerosol spraying of in-bound flights while passengers are onboard:

• Cuba
• Ecuador (Galapagos and Interislands only)
• Grenada
• India
• Kiribati
• Madagascar
• Seychelles
• Trinidad and Tobago
• Uruguay

Furthermore, the following countries require residual treatments or spraying when passengers are not onboard for all in-bound flights:

• Australia
• Barbados
• Cook Islands
• Fiji
• Jamaica
• New Zealand

In addition, there are other nations—including several popular destinations for tourists—that require disinsection on selected flights from certain locations. You should learn more if you’re flying into these countries from potentially infected areas:

• Czech Republic
• France
• Indonesia
• Mauritius
• South Africa
• Switzerland
• United Kingdom

Are there risks?

If you’re concerned about disinsection, individual governments and airlines are key sources for further information. And you may want to consider the primer for air travelers provided by WHO. In 1995, WHO issued a report stating aircraft disinsection performed properly should be encouraged: “Although some individuals may experience transient discomfort following aircraft disinsection by aerosol application, there is no objection to any of the recommended methods of aircraft disinsection from a toxicological perspective.”

However, asthma sufferers are among those who should be aware of such “transient discomfort.” In 2010 the International Society of Travel Medicine published a detailed report on this topic.

WHO’s optimism did little to allay many fears. In fact, such concerns are not new, and date back decades; for years now environmentalists, medical professionals, academics and media outlets have questioned using pesticides inside cramped and sealed aircraft cabins. And travel blogs are filled with strongly worded opinions on the potential dangers. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention details concerns for aircrew members as part of its workplace safety initiative. Such concerns also can affect frequent fliers facing higher exposure to pesticides.

In 2012, two academics released “Quantifying Exposure to Pesticides on Commercial Aircraft,” a detailed report funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). After examining aircraft cabins and flight crews, the report concluded: “This study documents that flight attendants on commercial aircrafts disinsected with pyrethroid insecticides are exposed to pesticides at levels that result in elevated body burden and internal accumulation comparable to pesticide applicators, exceeding levels in the general U.S. population. It is expected that flying public would be similarly exposed to pesticides on those flights.”

Similar warnings have long been voiced by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), which represents almost 60,000 cabin crew at 19 airlines, and offers detailed reading on this topic. A spokeswoman for AFA says the union still has health concern about disinsection, noting: “AFA worked tirelessly to get the FAA Reauthorization bill two years ago to include a requirement for airlines to let passengers know that they’ll be sprayed with pesticides when they buy a ticket to certain countries. This legislation was passed, but the DOT hasn’t yet turned the legislation into a regulation.”

AFA also recommends alternatives to spraying, and supports the use of non-chemical means of disinsection, such as “air blowers at the passenger boarding door and specialized net curtains over the cabin service doors.” The spokeswoman says, “These options were initiated by AFA in 2003 and promoted by the DOT and [U.S. Department of Agriculture], but the momentum has slowed in recent years,” due to a lack of funding. Ultimately, AFA suggests alternatives to spraying will not come from the airlines, but must be regulated by the DOT.

Check with your carrier

While policies on disinsection are established by government agencies, individual airlines implement the methodologies. Some major international carriers—such as Air Canada, British Airways, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic—provide details on their specific policies or links to the DOT’s overview. But you should contact your carrier if you have unanswered questions.

I reached out to the Big Three U.S. major network airlines—American, Delta and United—and asked about their specific policies. All claim they do not spray with passengers onboard:

• American states it only disinsects on aircraft operating to Port of Spain. A spokesman explains: “Spraying is done during overnight cleans for the aircraft. Maintenance clears the planes for up to two hours until it’s safe to re-enter.” Passengers with any questions are advised to contact Ryan Correa at ryan.correa@aa.com.

• Delta states that “spraying is performed without passengers or crew members onboard,” either prior to boarding or after deplaning. A source at Delta advises the two primary destinations for disinsection are Australia and Chile, although it occurs “occasionally” in West Africa.

• United states the carrier “carefully follows” all entry requirements for the nations it serves, and aircraft disinsection is required in some countries. However, the airline states: “No destination that United serves requires routine spraying while passengers and crew are on board.”

Proponents of current aircraft disinsection policies note that failing to address airborne disease is unthinkable, while those worried about harmful side effects recommend alternative methodologies. What seems clear is far too many airline passengers are unaware of such issues until they are faced with mandatory spraying, so the need for greater education is apparent. Even The Science Babe and The Food Babe could probably agree on that.

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Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

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