I took the dogs for their morning walk this morning to discover city employees, armed with what could best describe as “killer smog spewing leaf blowers” gassing the park. Upon inquiry, I learned that they are culling mosquitoes in response to the threat of Zika virus (though this is also how they cull cockroaches and mice). Initially, I was irritated that not only can the dogs not play in the park this morning but also that I have to breath in this toxic shitstorm. As I outlined in my head how I was going to write this very article, I discovered that I can think of many more reasons that Big Brother SHOULD occasionally unleash the Killer Smog than reasons they shouldn’t.
If you have read my article: Zika Hysteria in Taiwan: Still not as Scary as Taiwanese Drivers (link below), then you can guess what my first thought was: belching poison into the air is not only dangerous but completely unnecessary. Zika is far less scary than the way the locals drive and many times less likely to injure (infect) or kill you. But it would be intellectually dishonest of me to not acknowledge that at least a part of this is because of the overkill response to potential pandemics before they become pandemics. As the old saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and infection rates increases exponentially with the number of vectors. Culling potential vectors before Zika becomes a full blown pandemic is many times more effective. Even if it turns out that i’m not full of shit and Zika really is just a boogeyman to entertain and scare the unthinking masses, this is not the only diseases that: mosquitoes, mice and cockroaches carry. It is not at all unlikely that diseases we’ve never seen, that never left the sewers were prevented from becoming full blown pandemics because of preventative community programs that target the vectors.
But, we are essentially trading a potential problem for a guaranteed problem: breathing in toxic smog. Unlike some of the other overkill chemical responses to pathogens I have witnessed (ex: putting bleach in the air humidifier for indoor, antimicrobial fog) this is relatively tame. Admittedly, Killer Smog must be pretty nasty stuff if it kills cockroaches, but being outdoors and therefore highly diluted shortly after being administered, its hard to imagine it is encountered in large enough concentrations to be significantly harmful when compared to all the other environmental toxins of the city. Everyday we are breathing car exhaust and consuming: questionable water and food additives. A little bit of killer smog every once in awhile is probably a drop in the ocean against the background of nasty shit we are already exposed to every moment of every day.
My third objection was that there are other ways to control mosquitoes that don’t involve inhaling toxins. While this is very true, there simply aren’t any more efficient ways to deal with the suckers. The local mosquitoes seem to be able to breed despite community efforts to eliminate stagnant water (which has already been underway). Furthermore, I have yet to find an effective DEET free mosquito repellent. Taiwanese mosquitoes laugh at “all natural” repellents and the hippy fags that promote them. Lantern traps that zap just about every other kind of bug are pretty uninteresting to mosquitoes. Pretty much, the occasional application of killer smog is the only effective way that you can leave your screened in house without getting sucked dry. Aside from potential pathogen transmission, its just unpleasant to be covered in itchy bug bites.
Despite my initial irritation of having killer smog imposed upon my health, I have convinced myself that this is indeed the best method of pest control and far better than the alternative. Furthermore, if I get cancer in a few years, it probably wont have much to do with a little exposure to Killer Smog anyways.