Thursday, July 16, 2009

Anti-mosquito white chemical fog truck (thermal fogger) in South Korea -- Ah, to be young and free and run and frolic inside poisonous clouds

When Julianne and I headed out to get dinner tonight we ran into the infamous anti-mosquito fog truck.

I've been wanting to get good quality video of this vile scourge for a long time. Usually what happens is the thing has already driven by when I notice it's in the neighborhood, or it's too far away by the time I get my camera out to film it.

Tonight, the timing and location were perfect. I got an excellent close-up of the rig itself, the truck, and the kids running after the truck and playing in the chemical fog . . .

Here it is,



I decided I should do a bit of reading cause I'm no expert on pest control and don't know much about chemicals and mosquitoes . . . an excerpt from the wikipedia.com's entry on mosquitoes has some relevant info.

Mosquito control (from wikipedia)

Adulticiding

"Control of adult mosquitoes is the most familiar aspect of mosquito control to most of the public. It is accomplished by ground-based applications or via aerial application of chemical pesticides. Generally modern mosquito-control programs in developed countries use low-volume applications of pesticides, although some programs may still use thermal fogging. DDT was formerly used throughout the world for large area mosquito control, but it is now banned in most developed countries. Controversially, DDT remains in common use in many developing countries, which claim that the public-health cost of switching to other control methods would exceed the harm caused by using DDT. It is sometimes approved for use only in specific, limited circumstances where it is most effective, such as application to walls.

The role of DDT in combating mosquitoes has been the subject of considerable controversy. While some argue that DDT deeply damages biodiversity, others argue that DDT is the most effective weapon in combating mosquitoes and hence malaria. While some of this disagreement is based on differences in the extent to which disease control is valued as opposed to the value of biodiversity, there is also genuine disagreement amongst experts about the costs and benefits of using DDT. Moreover, DDT-resistant mosquitoes have started to increase in numbers, especially in tropics due to mutations, reducing the effectiveness of this chemical; these mutations can rapidly spread over vast areas if pesticides are applied indiscriminately (Chevillon et al. 1999)."


I guess for those of us expat/foreign English teachers that come from home countries/regions that don't have a serious mosquito problem, and where we haven't seen trucks spraying chemicals every spring/summer/fall, we tend to react rather harshly and condemn the act.

I'm trying to open my mind up to the idea of chemical spraying being the better of two evils . . . not fogging resulting in health problems (diseases spread by mosquitoes) and costs that South Korea might not be able to deal with, etc. I can do it, but I still get stopped by the outrage that nobody (i.e. adults, parents, etc) stops the kids from playing in the chemical fog.

I include this next video from youtube cause it shows a guy using the fogger in full protection gear . . . something that I have yet to see in Korea.



This next video shows a guy using a hand-held fogger and spraying INSIDE people's homes--wow.



And then you have this guy back in America making his own custom-design fogger that can be attached to his lawn mower . . .



I did a quick Google.ca news search for "mosquito fogging" . . . and found some articles . . .

Conditions ripe in Winnipeg for surge in mosquito numbers

Mosquito fogging set for this week

Va mosquito pool contains equine encephalitis


Anyways, I'll continue to cover my face with my t-shirt, and close the apartment windows whenever I hear the brrrrrrr of the approaching fogger truck . . . and hope that Korean parents are one day educated to understand that the fog truck is a health hazard for their children--and that they'll STOP them from playing in the fog . . .

J

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

How is it a health hazard? Are they using a DDT-based pesticide, or something else?

Jason said...

I don't have a specific answer to your question . . .

I am assuming, and I think it's safe to do so, that it's something that would be detrimental to children's health with repetitive exposure over the course of several summers/years . . .

If you have a source online that says Korean foggers use something that is innocuous to children's/human's health I'll do an updated post retracting my assertion that the fog is toxic to children . . .

I really doubt that local Korean foggers are using the most advanced in 'Green' technology methods for dealing with mosquitoes . ..

Prove me wrong.

J

Jason said...

"Controversially, DDT remains in common use in many developing countries, which claim that the public-health cost of switching to other control methods would exceed the harm caused by using DDT." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito_control

Foreigner Joy said...

Growing up in South Florida I saw the mosquito trucks go down our street during the summer very often. At that time it never bothered me...the sight that is. As for it being poisonous I didn't know until later on knowing that it was.

Stafford said...

Tough one to weigh up...Japanese Encephilitis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_encephalitis) or exposure to DDT two or three times a year...hmmmmmmmm. (Notwithstanding the kids running about behind the truck. Where are the parents!?)

Anonymous said...

If you're going to publicly (and repeatedly) criticize someone for doing something hazardous, and if you want someone to change their behaviour because you perceive their current behaviour to be dangerous, then it seems like it should be your burden to show that it is, in fact, hazardous.

I don't know whether it's dangerous or not.

But I'm also not criticizing people based on suppositions, inferences and assumptions. Nor am I questioning the education of Korean parents without actually educating myself on the situation first.

That's the irony I see in your postings about the mosquito fogger.

Jason said...

Hi Anonymous,

I'm going to put this very simply and plainly: some things are INTUITIVE and do not need facts to support them.

If a chemical agent is being sprayed into the air that KILLS insects it is intuitive that a CUMULATIVE amount of said substance being inhaled by children is going to cause some kind of damage.

I don't have the time this weekend to do the necessary research to prove my point. I will, however, look for some facts to help you understand what I'm saying.

Let me add something to this post that I didn't say before: I also find it reprehensible (yes, that strong a word) that parents are allowing their children to chase after a FREAKING TRUCK in white fog with low visibility in a PARKING LOT with cars coming and going, and also out on the damn STREET with traffic coming and going . . .

Let's just say that YES, I do have a PROBLEM with some aspects of parenting in Korean culture.

This is a blog, and that's my opinion. I'm sure that many other people would agree that letting children run around on a street filled with white fog with cars driving up and down it might not be good for children let alone the crap that they're breathing in while doing that.

I've spent enough time defending that for most people is INTUITIVE. If you need hard facts why not take some initiative and do some research of your own--probably because you know you'd find out that the fog is INDEED bad for the children breathing it in.

Lastly, there is NO DEFENSE for letting children run around a truck hidden by fog with other vehicles driving around them on a street . . . trying to defend that is ridiculous . . .

J

Catherine said...

I'm trying to find information about what chemical SK uses. I haven't found anything yet, but did find this blog entry, which has some interesting points:

http://www.rjkoehler.com/2009/06/03/mosquito-idiots-loose-again/

Anonymous said...

There are generations of older people living in Florida who have fond memories of riding their bicycles behind the DDT truck, on purpose, so that they could stay outside into the evening hours without being bothered by mosquitoes. It does not seem to have harmed them.

Jason said...

Sorry Anonymous, but I strongly disagree.

You might want to do some reading about DDT before asserting that there are no ill health effects on humans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT#Effects_on_human_health

"DDT is suspected to cause cancer. The NTP classifies it as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen", and the EPA classifies DDT, DDE, and DDD as a class B2 "probable" human carcinogens. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies it is as a "possible" human carcinogen. These evaluations are based mainly on the results of animal studies."

The science may not be definitive, but I think there's enough evidence out there to point out that it's not a 'childhood activity' to ride in a cloud of DDT.

Consider how cigarette smoking was seen before the research caught up.

Reid said...

I LOVE that you caught this on video, in-fact I just saw a truck drive by today and said, dang it I need to get footage of that.So I googled and found your blog w00t!

I enjoyed reading through this:
http://www.junkscience.com/ddtfaq.html#ref5 ... yes some danger can be "intuition", but it could also be brainwashing of the environmental movements persuasive skills. It would be sad to me if all the people dying from malaria would have been saved if they were able to have DDT trucks, and the book "Silent Spring" was the only strong evidence that there was any issue.

I personally am grateful for the DDT trucks (If in fact they are DDT). I wish they would be able to use these in Malaria stricken countries.

Anonymous said...

Anybody can edit a wikipedia entry so best not to use it to back up your arguments.

Alexandra Queen said...

I'm a little late on this, but I've been scouring the internet trying to find out exactly what chemicals South Korea is using to fog. Im a teacher in a rural area and they thoroughly fog our kindergarten once a week. I run around trying to close all the windows, but nobody else seems to care about the billows of poison fog streaming into the school. When I acted horrified (there was so much inside it looked like there had been a fire), they called me alarmist and said it was not harmful or they wouldn't do it. Right...how can something that's meant to kill otherliving things not be harmful to humans?!!

Jason said...

Alexander Queen,
Consider all the mosquito-born viruses that can be transmitted and then that might alleviate your concerns a little...

I think the chemical fog is dangerous, but many viruses that the elderly and children can get are also more dangerous too....

It's a difficult situation...