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Disinsection

International Operations Appendices

If you've flown internationally for while you probably have some experience with having to spray the aircraft before beginning descent or even having to spray the aircraft after arrival and then having to seal the cabin for ten minutes as the passengers look at you with accusing eyes. "Couldn't you have gotten us out of this, captain?" In my charter GV years we had flight attendants keep a supply of half-spent spray cans so they could spray the entry door into fooling the inspectors that the cabin had been sprayed. I'll leave the ethical questions to you. For me, I don't like having aerosols on the aircraft so I would just assume have the inspectors bring the spray and let them spray. Australia may be my favorite country on earth and it seems like a small price to pay, mate.


 

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Overview

[Transportation.gov Aircraft Disinsection Requirements]

  • Disinsection is permitted under international law in order to protect public health, agriculture and the environment. The World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization stipulate two approaches for aircraft disinsection--
    1. Spraying — spray the aircraft cabin, with an aerosolized insecticide, while passengers are on board or
    2. Residual — treat the aircraft's interior surfaces with a residual insecticide (residual method) while passengers are not on board.
  • Panama and American Samoa have adopted a third method, in which aircraft are sprayed with an aerosolized insecticide while passengers are not on board.
  • Although the Report of the Informal Consultation on Aircraft Disinsection sponsored by the World Health Organization (November 6-10, 1995) concluded that aircraft disinsection, if performed appropriately, would not present a risk to human health, the report also noted that some individuals may experience transient discomfort following aircraft disinsection by aerosol application.
  • Although relatively few countries now require that aircraft be disinsected, most countries reserve the right to do so, and, as such, could impose a disinsection requirement should they perceive a threat to their public health, agriculture or environment. Accordingly, travelers are advised to check with their travel agent or airline reservations agent when booking flights or if they have questions about their final destination’s policy. Listed below are representatives of airlines who are knowledgeable on disinsection requirements.
  • Countries requiring the disinsection of all in-bound flights but allowing, as an alternative to the above approach, either (a) the residual method or (b) the application of an aerosolized spray while passengers are not on board.
    • Australia, Residual
    • Barbados, Residual
    • Cook Islands, Residual
    • Fiji, Residual
    • Jamaica, Residual
    • New Zealand, Residual
    • Panama, Spraying
  • Countries that require disinsection of selected flights:
    • Czech Republic, Areas of contagious diseases
    • France, Areas of malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever
    • Indonesia, Infected areas
    • Mauritius, Generally, flights coming from African continent, Asia and sub regions, the Middle East and islands of the Indian Ocean, and flights coming from any other country where mosquito borne diseases are prevalent.
    • South Africa, Areas of malaria or yellow fever
    • Switzerland, Intertropical Africa
    • United Kingdom, Malarial countries and countries with confirmed transmission of Zika

Requirement

[World Health Organization]

  • Many countries require disinsection of aircraft (to kill insects) arriving from countries where diseases that are spread by insects, such as malaria and yellow fever, occur. There have been a number of cases of malaria affecting individuals who live or work in the vicinity of airports in countries where malaria is not present, thought to be due to the escape of malaria-carrying mosquitoes transported on aircraft. Some countries, e.g. Australia and New Zealand, routinely carry out disinsection to prevent the inadvertent introduction of species that may harm their agriculture.
  • Disinsection is a public health measure that is mandated by the International Health Regulations (Annex 2). It involves treatment of the interior of the aircraft with insecticides specified by WHO. The different procedures currently in use are as follows:
    • treatment of the interior of the aircraft using a quick-acting insecticide spray immediately before take-off, with the passengers on board;
    • treatment of the interior of the aircraft on the ground before passengers come on board, using a residual-insecticide aerosol, plus additional in-flight treatment with a quick-acting spray shortly before landing;
    • regular application of a residual insecticide to all internal surfaces of the aircraft, except those in food preparation areas.
  • Passengers are sometimes concerned about their exposure to insecticide sprays during air travel, and some have reported feeling unwell after spraying of aircraft for disinsection. However, WHO has found no evidence that the specified insecticide sprays are harmful to human health when used as recommended.

Disinsection Procedures

The following comes from the World Health Organization.

  • Pre-flight: A pre-flight aerosol containing an insecticide with rapid action and limited residual action is applied by ground staff to the flight deck, passenger cabin including toilet areas, open overhead and side-wall lockers, coat lockers and crew rest areas. The spray is applied before the passengers board the aircraft but not more than 1 h before the doors are closed. A 2% permethrin cis:trans (25:75) formulation is currently recommended for this application, at a target dose of 0.7 g a.i./100 m3. This requires application at 35 g of formulation per 100 m3 to various types of aircraft, with a droplet size of 10–15 μm. Preflight spraying is followed by a further in-flight spray, i.e. top-of-descent as the aircraft starts its descent to the arrival airport.
  • Blocks away: Spraying is carried out by crew members when the passengers are on board, after closure of the cabin door and before the flight takes off. An aerosol containing an insecticide for rapid action is used. The air-conditioning system should be switched off during cabin spraying. The flight deck is sprayed before the pilot boards (when no passengers are on board). The doors of overhead luggage racks should be closed only after spraying has been completed. An aerosol containing 2% D-phenothrin is currently recommended by WHO and should be applied at a rate of 35 g of formulation per 100 m3 (i.e. 0.7 g a.i./100 m3). Cargo holds should also be disinsected.
  • Top-of-descent: Top-of-descent spraying is carried out as the aircraft starts its descent to the arrival airport. An aerosol containing 2% D-phenothrin is currently recommended by WHO for this purpose and is applied with the air recirculation system set at from high to normal flow. The amounts applied are based on a standard spray rate of 1 g/s and 35 g of the formulation per 100 m3 (i.e. 0.7 g a.i./100 m3).
  • Residual: The internal surfaces of the passenger cabin and cargo hold, excluding food preparation areas, are sprayed with a compression sprayer that has a constant flow valve and flat fan nozzle according to WHO specifications. Permethrin 25:75 (cis:trans) emulsifiable concentrate is currently recommended by WHO at a target dose of 0.2 g/m2 applied at intervals not exceeding 2 months. The emulsion is applied at 10 ml/m2 to avoid run off. Residual sprays are applied by professional pest control operators and are intended for long-term residual activity on aircraft interior surfaces. In electrically sensitive areas, it may be necessary to use an aerosol instead of a compression sprayer. After treatment is completed, air-conditioning packs should be run for at least 1 h before the crew and passengers embark to clear the air of the volatile components of the spray. Areas that undergo substantial cleaning between treatments require supplementary ‘touch-up’ spraying.

Italy, First-hand Report

Eddie,

I see you have some new info on disinsection in your “updates”. I can provide some first-hand knowledge into the requirements in Italy, as I was disinsected twice this month at Ciampino. We were required to provide a certificate with “our airport’s medical officer’s WHO stamp”. Huh? We elected to have it done on arrival at LIRA, and it wasn’t a big deal. Passengers were offloaded, we removed our bags, cleaned up the airplane (G550) and waited for the sprayer. It was done with a pump sprayer of the type you’d spray your fruit trees. He was very careful, sprayed just on the carpet, wiped up any overspray, and stayed out of the cockpit area. The airplane had to be then closed for 1.5 hours, but we just closed it up and went to the hotel. Three days later we opened up the door to start our departure day, and it really didn’t seem to have much odor, and any that lingered was quickly dispersed with the open MED and baggage door. It is recommended to run the A/C packs for at least 30 minutes before closing up for departure. Total cost was 569.80 Euros, including the certificate, which is good for 8 weeks.

Steven

March 2016

Hi Eddie,

We had a recent trip into Milan, Italy – LIML. Here’s what we experienced concerning the “Residual Disinsection” requirement.

In Geneva, after the pax left and we were ready to leave for the hotel (one RON), two men came to do the spraying. Actually, one held a clipboard outside, while the other donned a white jump suit and began to spray the cabin and baggage compartment with a small aerosol can of “FLYMED AIRCRAFT”. Then the aircraft was closed up and we departed. I believe the plane must stay closed up for one hour. I asked for a certificate of the spraying, but I was informed that it would have to be sent to our home operations. The certificate arrived about 10 days later. The fee was billed through our handling agent, Universal. That charge was about $400 US.

Get this: All aircraft coming from ANY country must be sprayed or have been sprayed within the last 8 weeks. This includes Italy. Thus, if you’re up in Rome and were OK at that time, but them fly to Milan and your eight weeks has expired, you must get sprayed again. I have no idea what would be the protocol if after landing in Milan, we then went to Rome and had no certificate.

BTW, we removed all food items, even packaged goods such as peanuts, etc.

Upon departure day, we opened the aircraft (it had been about 18 hours shut up) and the smell of the insecticide was very strong. It caused me to cough a lot. The aircraft must be aired out for at least 30 minutes, but I’d recommend one hour.

Name withheld by request

October 2016

Risks

The World Health Organization says disinsection sprays are not hazardous to your health. You may or may not believe them, there are a number of sources that back them up:

On the other hand, a study by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine conducted a study of several reports of flight attendant illness over a 1-year period and concluded:

The 12 cases of pesticide illness documented in this investigation demonstrate that Residual insecticide applications can result in illness among workers exposed to the aircraft cabin environment after disinsection. The documented acute illnesses likely underestimate the magnitude of illnesses due to disinsection. The public health impact of Residual disinsection also includes other workers who pilot, clean, service, and maintain the aircraft, and the passenger population. The conditions of use (i.e., the aerosol application of a pesticide in a confined space) significantly contributed to the human health hazard of Residual disinsection.

References

"Pesticide Illness Among Flight Attendants Due to Aircraft Disinsection," American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 50:345-356, 2007

[Australia] http://www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/avm/aircraft/disinsection/procedures/spray-rates-listing#32-small-jets- regional-and-private-aircraft

Gulfstream Aircraft Fumigation Procedures, SGER-548, 24 September 2013

[New Zealand] http://www.mpi.govt.nz/travel-and-recreation/arriving-in-new-zealand/steps-for-flying-aircraft-to-new-zealand/

Transportation.gov Aircraft Disinsection Requirements [https://www.transportation.gov/office-policy/aviation-policy/aircraft-disinsection-requirements]

World Health Organization / Aircraft Disinsection [http://www.who.int/ith/mode_of_travel/aircraft_disinsection/en/]

World Health Organization Equipment for vector control specification guidelines, 2010

Revision: 20161007
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