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Aircraft toxins

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"Disinsection" is the term used to describe the practice of spraying pesticides in various areas of an aircraft, including the passenger cabin, kitchen, cockpit, and cargo hold

"Disinsection" is the term used to describe the practice of spraying pesticides in various areas of an aircraft, including the passenger cabin, kitchen, cockpit, and cargo hold.

International law permits disinsection in order to protect public health, agriculture, and the environment from unwanted bugs that might carry disease. Canada does not require disinsection; however, Canadian aircraft must comply with the requirements of other countries.

Pesticides can be sprayed over the heads of passengers or applied by a "residual" method, whereby a long-lasting chemical is sprayed on the interior surfaces of unoccupied planes. This residue lasts up to 56 days.

The active ingredient in most of these pesticides is the nerve poison permethrin. Side effects reported by flight attendants, pilots, and passengers range from flu-like symptoms to neurological damage.

This year, an alternative, non-chemical means of disinsection-an air curtain producing a powerful stream of air to deter potential bug hitchhikers-is being tested by the US Department of Transport.

Until our planes are pesticide free, you can check out Transport Canada's website for an up-to-date list of countries that require disinsection.

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