在飛機上使用殺蟲劑會危害到您的健康 (上) | 台灣環境資訊協會-環境資訊中心

在飛機上使用殺蟲劑會危害到您的健康 (上)

危險!危險!航空班機違規噴灑農藥囉!

2003年11月24日
作者:Ellen Rosenbush、Naomi Kirsten;廖健森 譯,朱敬平 審校

害怕飛行嗎?現在有個好理由了!連續假期被認為是可以使人們感到輕鬆、愉悅與有益健康的;但是,一旦坐上飛機踏上旅途,當你回家時可能會比出發前覺得更糟。

當考慮到環境的問題時,飛機通常不會是交通工具的最佳選擇,因為飛機會使用較多的燃料(同樣的運輸距離,一般的巴士只消耗不到飛機1/5的燃料)。搭飛機非但對地球不好,而且,現在也可能會影響到你的健康了。

現在,讓我們將目光移到美國,看看那個幾乎讓我失去意識,感到難受的牙買加航空吧。在搭乘他們飛機旅行的途中,嘔吐、噁心與令人眼花的感覺不斷的侵襲著我,而當我試圖想要說出這種感覺的時候,我的先生已經發現我似乎失去意識了。他覺得我似乎是哪裡出了問題,但實際上,我是對機艙空氣中某種不是聯邦所許可的藥物產生過敏反應了。

牙買加是准許在回國班機上噴灑殺蟲劑來對農害進行日常「防制行為」的12個國家之一。格瑞那達、印度、吉里巴斯共和國、馬達加斯加、千里達、托貝哥共和國與烏拉圭會在乘客還在機上時就對機身噴灑殺蟲劑。而牙買加、澳大利亞、巴貝多、斐濟、紐西蘭與巴拿馬等國噴灑殺蟲劑的時機,則不會特別考慮在機上還有人或是已經清空的時候。除了國際線的航班(例如牙買加航空)外,所有美國本土的班機均會遵守其國內的規定。

「除蟲」在這裡是指除掉任何可能危害到植物、動物或人體健康的有害昆蟲(採用此字彙的時機如下:例如一個美國航空的發言人說:沒有人喜歡看到飛機上有蜘蛛)。毫無疑問地,入侵的外來物種在環境上是一個嚴重的問題:目前至少有4500種外來的動物跟植物在美國本土建立起其族群,而其中又大約有15%的外來物種會對本土物種造成嚴重的危害。這樣的問題似乎將環保人士推到了一個進退兩難的角落上:什麼是較糟的,殺蟲劑的散佈嗎,還是入侵的外來昆蟲?

危險,機艙內將被噴灑殺蟲劑了!但事實上並不存在這樣的兩難。首先,噴灑殺蟲劑的效果有待商確,由於外來昆蟲可能會躲進旅客的行李中,所以殺蟲劑無法直接傷害到它們;目前也不清楚什麼才是最好的噴灑方式。「我們在各班機上擁有過許多不同的噴灑經驗」,空服員協會的工業衛生學者穆拉瓦斯基(Judith Murawski)如此說。部分的班機允許噴灑過量的殺蟲劑,有些噴灑在門開闔時所產生的夾縫。此外,機械學上的解決方式或許會比殺蟲劑更有效;穆拉瓦斯基解釋說,美國運輸部正在試驗利用高壓空氣,在旅客進入機艙時將害蟲吹落的可行性。(待續)

Pesticide use on airplanes could harm your health
Rage, Rage Against the Spraying of the Flight
by Ellen Rosenbush with additional reporting by Naomi Kirsten

Vacations are supposed to leave you feeling relaxed, happy, and healthy -- but if you travel by air, you might feel worse by the time you get home than you did when you left.

Flying should not generally be the transportation option of choice for the environmentally minded, given its intensive use of resources. (Intercity buses consume less than a fifth the energy jets do to cover the same amount of distance.) And not only is it lousy for the Earth, it's not great for your own health, either.

Returning to the U.S. recently on an Air Jamaica flight, I felt so ill that I almost lost consciousness. I was overcome with nausea and dizziness, and when I tried to talk, my husband reported that I didn't make sense. He thought I was having some sort of seizure. In reality, I was having an allergic reaction to an agent (not the federally employed kind) in the cabin air.

Jamaica is one of 12 countries that require routine "disinsection" -- the spraying of pesticides -- on all inbound flights. Grenada, India, Kiribati, Madagascar, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay require spraying while passengers are on board; flights to Jamaica, Australia, Barbados, Fiji, New Zealand, and Panama may be disinsected when the plane is either empty or occupied. In addition to national air carriers (such as Air Jamaica), all U.S. airlines comply with these nations' requirements.

Disinsection is meant to kill any insects that might pose a threat to plant, animal, or human health. (There are PR considerations as well: As a spokesperson for U.S. Airways put it, "No one likes seeing a spider on a flight.") And no doubt about it, invasive species are a huge environmental problem: At least 4,500 nonnative animals and plants have established populations in the U.S., and approximately 15 percent of these are doing serious damage to native species. This seems to pitch environmentalists onto the horns of a dilemma: Which is worse, pesticide exposures or invasive insects?

But actually, the dilemma is a false one. First, the efficacy of spraying is questionable, since insects may travel inside luggage, where the pesticide won't harm them. And the best practices for spraying are murky: "We have evidence of huge differences in spraying methods between airlines," said Judith Murawski, an industrial hygienist with the Association of Flight Attendants. "Some airlines have admitted to overspraying. Some spray down at ankle level with the doors open." Moreover, there are mechanical solutions that may be preferable to pesticides; Murawski notes that the U.S. Department of Transportation is testing the feasibility of blowing compressed air across passengers as they enter jets as a means of driving away pests.

(To be Continued)