An airline passenger expressed his displeasure over the mandatory spraying of aircraft insecticide /disinfectant before taking off from Hong Kong. Passenger Jalilo De la Torre posted his concern on Thursday last week saying, “We’ve just been sprayed with this disinfectant/insecticide onboard Air Asia flight from HK, allegedly per DOH regulation.” The disinfection becomes mandated to all local airlines though some passengers only encounter this similar incident from Cebu Pacific and Air Asia.
“Shouldn’t this be done when the flight has already landed and the passengers out of the plane?” De la Torre added. Before taking off, the airline official usually announces the standard protocol and warns the public of possible nasal irritation, mild headache, and nausea. If the spray is safe why should they ask passengers to cover their noses and mouth so as not to experience discomfort?
De la Torre thinks of two possible reasons why the spraying should be conducted in this manner. Passengers may be suspected to carry a mosquito-borne virus that needs to be eradicated before they get landed to the port of entry. Another reason is to speed up aircraft turnaround after the passengers and luggage are cleared out. Whatever the reason is, the riding passengers should feel comfortable while onboard.
All airlines, both domestic and international, have been mandated to disinfect their passenger planes before taking off and before landing to the airport of destination. The airline procedure intends to prevent the possible contamination of Zika, a mosquito-borne virus with flu-like symptoms, throughout the airport.
Under the directives of the Department of Health, the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) released a memorandum, ordering aircraft operators, airport authorities and ground personnel to eliminate all sources of mosquito breeding sites within the premises of the airplane. The spraying of insecticides also serves as a precautionary measure in preventing other diseases that could be acquired through insect bites.
According to the memo, a compound solution of d-phenothrin and permethrin, both compound ingredients of insecticides and repellants, should be sprayed all over the cabin area prior to the unloading of luggage and cargo. The BOQ also specified the mixing proportion of the disinfectant based on the aircraft size.
The DOH regulation is a response to the call of the International Civil Aviation Organization, mandating all international airlines to conduct regular disinfection whenever they leave and arrive at the country of destination. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the ICAO suggest two methods for this procedure. Insecticides can be sprayed inside the cabin while passengers are onboard. The other option is to treat the aircraft interiors with concentrated or residual disinfectants while passengers are not yet onboard.
“Even if it is necessary and for the public interest, isn’t there a less invasive way of doing it?” De la Torre concluded.
Many suggest conducting the disinfection before loading and using a fan to get the bad smell out immediately.