Environmental health perspectives

Octachlorodipropyl ether (s-2) mosquito coils are inadequately studied for residential use in Asia and illegal in the United States.

PMID 12948880


Children and their parents in residences are often protected by insecticides from nuisance and disease-bearing mosquitoes. The annual worldwide consumption of the four major types of residential insecticide products--aerosols, mosquito coils, liquid vaporizers, and vaporizing mats--is in the billions of units. Mosquito coils are burned indoors and outdoors in East Asia and to a limited extent in other parts of the world, including the United States. Coils consist of an insecticide/repellant, organic fillers capable of burning with smoldering, binder, and additives such as synergists, dyes, and fungicide. The number of coil users in China is in the millions. In Indonesia alone, an estimated seven billion coils are purchased annually. Coils containing pyrethroid insecticides, particularly d-allethrin, may contain octachlorodipropyl ether (S-2, S-421) as a synergist or active ingredient. Use of those coils likely exposes children and adults to some level of bis(chloromethyl)ether (BCME). BCME is formed from formaldehyde and hydrogen chloride, combustion products formed from the slow smoldering (about 8 hr/coil) of the mosquito coils. Because BCME is an extremely potent lung carcinogen, the nature and extent of prolonged exposures that recur in homes during the mosquito season in tropical regions must be evaluated with respect to health. In a small analytical study, coils purchased in Indonesia and in the United States contained highly variable amounts of S-2. Some coils that contained S-2 were not labeled, making it impossible for consumers to make an informed decision about coil contents. Mosquito coils containing S-2 are unregistered, and their use is illegal in the United States. Indoor air monitoring under conditions that represent conditions of use in tropical settings and epidemiology to assess health impacts of coil use are essential to permit responsible regulatory decisions regarding continuing S-2 use.

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S 421, PESTANAL®, analytical standard