My husband and I are planning on backpacking SE Asia for 9 weeks from Feb 17, 2014-Aril 24, 2014. We plan on visiting Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. I have been recently been informed about all of the deaths throughout the past couple of years due to harmful pesticides used in hotel rooms and guest houses to get rid of bed bugs. Apparently, the lethal pesticide is called chlorpyrifos and has thought to have killed several young backpackers in Thailand and Vietnam.
Since I have been aware of this information, I am really scared about travelling to SE Asia now and not sure what to do to ensure that I arrive back to North America safely.
Help! Thanks so much.
#1 cpbaugil has been a member since 11/11/2013. Posts: 1
You better not go if you are that worried about something so unlikely... Over 20 million tourists visit Thailand every year and there have only been a small handful of instances, none of which(or most of which) seem to have been proven conclusively.
You probably have a better chance of getting hit by lighting and for sure have a better chance of getting in a car crash among many other things. Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill and worry about the things you can control.
On a side note, you want to know how to protect yourself. Already in my 10 minute research on this I have seen that this chemical has a very strong odour. If you smell something weird ask the owners what the smell is.
There is absolutely no need to be worried about this. Since you are a married couple, I presume you will be staying in accommodation that is of higher quality than the cheapest backpacker guesthouses. If you are booking your accommodation in advance, maybe read a couple of reviews before you book just to put your mind at rest. If not, just check the room thoroughly before you decide to stay (you should be doing this anyway).
Really, this should not be a major concern when visiting SE Asia. It is a very safe part of the world, but there are risks as there are anywhere. I personally would consider it to be safer overall than many cities in Europe and definitely many parts of North America.
"Apparently, the lethal pesticide is called chlorpyrifos and has thought to have killed several young backpackers in Thailand and Vietnam."
It's a myth. You'd have to inhale a lot of pest spray to be killed. More likely they died from other causes. I've been in several hotels when they have sprayed for bugs and no one got sick.
The APVMA initiated a review of chlorpyrifos in 1997 as part of its chemical review program which is examining a number of organophosphorus insecticides because of concerns about their relative lack of specificity against target pests and potential toxicity to both invertebrates (including beneficial insects) and vertebrates (including humans). The review of chlorpyrifos covered issues relating to public health, occupational health and safety, and the environment.
The Australian chlorpyrifos review was rigorous and extensive. Over three years it drew submissions from industry, community organisations, individuals and scientific bodies, saw the collection of information from Australian and international sources, and involved detailed scientific analysis of the available data.
The interim review report was published in 2000. The major findings of the review were:
[ulist][li] Highly concentrated chlorpyrifos products available for purchase and use by householders posed an unacceptable risk to these users. Provided that householder access to these concentrated products was removed, uses in or around the home and garden, including termiticide use, would not pose a public health risk.[/li][li] There were inadequate instructions on product labels with regards to safety directions, label warnings and the circumstances in which which the products could be used. Provided that label instructions and warnings were strengthened, continued use was not likely to pose a occupational health and safety risk or a risk to the environment.[/li][li] There were some deficiencies in chlorpyrifos residue data for some agricultural commodities. Nevertheless, available data indicated very low residues in Australian produce, such that the population with the highest estimated exposure had a dietary intake which was only 3% of the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for chlorpyrifos.[/li][/ulist] Key regulatory decisions made by the APVMA as a result of the review of all the available data at that time included:
[ulist][li] cancellation of registration of household pesticides with chlorpyrifos concentrations greater than 50 g per litre and a warning on all products of higher strength that they were too hazardous for use by householders;[/li][li] restrictions on use such that indoor spraying of exposed surfaces such as floors and walls was no longer permitted; [/li][li] new requirements for labeling including detailed safety directions and new instructions concerning the times and conditions governing re-entry and re-occupation of treated areas;[/li][li] clear advice on use practices that would reduce the potential for environmental contamination, with strengthening of label restraints by incorporating statements designed to minimise spray drift, surface run-off to waterways, and releases to urban drains. The Department of the Environment and Heritage was satisfied that, subject to these label changes and changes in uses, harmful effects on the animals or the environment were unlikely.[/li][/ulist]
So unless it's a very high dose this spray isn't the devil.
If it was a very high spray you'd smell it!!!