A medical expert, Dr. Obi Ikeme, has warned that inhaling fumes from burning mosquito coil indoors can be dangerous to human health, especially the lungs.
The medical expert spoke against the backdrop of the impending rainy season, which is synonymous with ubiquity of mosquitoes due to stagnant water in ditches and gutters during this period.
Ikeme, a senior consultant and pulmonologist at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, noted that though mosquito coils generate smoke that can control mosquitoes effectively, the fumes may contain pollutants that could be dangerous to health.
He said, “For centuries we have burnt substances, particularly aromatic plants, to keep mosquitoes away. The clouds of the smelly smoke can often ward off the swarms of blood-sucking mosquitoes. When we burn coils, it gives rise to emission of particles made of the constituents of the product, which include hydrocarbons and ketones. The level of emission from these coils is mostly concentrated under unfavourable room conditions. So, we found that pollutant concentrations resulting from burning mosquito coils could substantially exceed health-based air quality standards or guidelines.
“When these coils go through these combustion, a large pollutant of volatile compounds, including carcinogens, is released and when people in a room inhale them, it poses significant acute and chronic health risk on the lungs.
“We burn them to beat the bite of mosquitoes, but they could actually be making us sick. So, the best bet is to limit the use of coils to outdoors or well-ventilated indoor area and people should not sleep next to a smouldering mosquito coil, because burning one mosquito coil in a closed room amounts to smoking roughly 100 cigarettes.”
The medical expert advised that people should rather consider plug-in “smokeless” mosquito repellent devices or sleep under a mosquito net, which is the best non-chemical approach to preventing mosquito bite at night.