PRESS NOTE:With COVID-19 causing respiratory issues, stop using illegal mosquito repellent incense sticks to reduce risk in Maharashtra, urges Home Insect Control Association

Mumbai, December 7, 2021: The COVID-19 pandemic has increased respiratory issues leading to partially or in some cases, fully damaged lungs. Health professionals across the globe are already engaged in controlling the ongoing health crisis.

Home Insect Control Association (HICA), a non-profit making industry body promoting the safe use of household insecticides in India, has demanded a stop to buying or selling of mosquito repellent incense sticks (agarbattis) in Maharashtra as the majority of them are illegal and do not have necessary certification/licenses.

As per recent government data, 1,16,991 cases of dengue have been reported across the country in the last month. States like Maharashtra, Haryana, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and New Delhi have seen a sharp increase in the cases.

 People are protecting themselves from mosquitoes and are buying mosquito repellent incense sticks/ agarbatti available across chemists, pan shops, and Kirana stores. These incense sticks /agarbattis are sold at a cheap price and have a visible drop-down impact on mosquitoes yet are illegally made and sold without proper licenses and permissions from the relevant Government Department. Illegal & spurious incense sticks/agarbattis available in the market are laced with unapproved harmful chemicals (insecticides/ pesticides). This can cause health issues such as asthma, bronchitis, reactive airways disease, and other respiratory ailments. Basic checks on safety parameters that are mandatory for all home insecticide products are not carried out by these manufacturers producing the illegal agarbattis.

The mosquito repellent agarbattis are sold in the market under names like Relax, Comfort, Sleepwell, Just Relax, Relief, Natural Relax, among others. These incense sticks/agarbattis do not go through the regulated manufacturing and licensing processes. As per the provisions of the Insecticide Act 1968, all household insecticide products need to be approved by Central Insecticide Board (CIB) and the registration committee. Household Insecticide products are approved by the CIB after evaluating the toxicity and safety of the product to the consumers and animals before granting permissions.

Mr. Jayant Deshpande, Honorary Secretary, HICA, said, At a time when respiratory issues are occurring frequently, we strongly urge people to stop or avoid using mosquito repellent incense sticks. Most of them available in the market are illegal and have the potential to damage consumer health. Usage of illegal mosquito repellent agarbattis or incense with unknown combustible material can trigger asthma, bronchitis, reactive airways disease, and other respiratory ailments. These incense sticks/agarbattis do not go through regulatory checks and have chemicals exceeding prescribed levels. They are likely to contain banned or unapproved chemicals as well. While these incense sticks seem to be effective on mosquitoes, they will be equally harmful to people’s health.”

He further added, “In the last 3 years, we have conducted more than 50 raids across the country along with local authorities. While we are committed to protecting the interest of consumers, we recommend people to use only branded mosquito repellents and solutions which are approved by the licensing authorities. The licensing number starts with CIR No and mfg license no that is issued by Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIB-RC) and State Dept and mandatorily required to be displayed on packages. People buy mosquito incense sticks more because of their affordable cost. Today, the organized industry has innovated and introduced safe alternatives to incense sticks like paper-based mosquito repellent cards which are approved, effective, and cost as low as just INR 1 per usage.”

In India, close to 50% of mosquito repellents are in the burning format out of which, almost 30% are using unapproved and illegal mosquito repellent incense sticks. HICA has been working with the authorities for initiating strict action against manufacturers violating the licensing protocol of following certain safety parameters before the product is introduced in the market to consumers.

About Home Insect Control Association (HICA)

HICA is an organization established in 1995 to give impetus to the domestic Home Insecticides sector, to facilitate the members of the Association for the overall safety of the environment, and to educate the public about the healthy and proper use of home insecticides for a pest-free life, and to introduce self-regulation and governance by the member industry.

HICA cares to maintain and enhance the reputation of the insecticides industry and safeguard the business interests of its members by bringing to the notice of authorities cases of unauthorized & unrecognized suppliers who misrepresent and sell products of harmful nature to the hapless consumers.

The objective is to promote and stabilize measures in order to assist in the promotion of the safe use of insecticides in India and help in the development of the insecticides industry in the larger interest of the country.

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