Town council using anti-mosquito paint

This file photo taken shows a mosquito on May 7. PHOTO: AFP

A paint is said to keep mosquitoes off your walls, and one town council is going to test it out.

Developed by Japanese firm Kansai Paint, the paint contains permethrin, a commonly used insecticide that could ward off the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that are able to spread both the Zika and dengue viruses. It can also keep at bay other small insects such as ants and small spiders, but it works only indoors.

After a successful trial in April and May this year, Nee Soon Town Council plans to use the paint for 18 residential blocks in Nee Soon by the year end.

A spokesman for the town council said it tried the paint at a block in Nee Soon after getting feedback from residents about cobwebs forming on the internal walls of the block. The trial showed it was effective in reducing cobwebs, she said.

But she added that the paint does not repel insects from the blocks completely as it is suitable only for use on internal walls, such as at void decks, and not exterior walls.

The chemical permethrin affects the nervous systems of mosquitoes and other insects.

It has been used as an insecticide for decades and also in insecticide- treated bed nets, for instance, said Associate Professor Roderick Wayland Bates from Nanyang Technological University's School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. "It is regarded as having very low toxicity to humans and so poses no hazard in normal use," he said, adding that permethrin is based on a natural compound found in chrysanthemums.

Kansai Paint (Singapore) chief operating officer Richard Leong said the paint costs about 10 per cent to 15 per cent more than conventional paint. He added that as mosquitoes like to rest on walls during the day, the paint would prevent them from coming indoors.

Nonetheless, the paint alone cannot be a solution to the dengue and Zika situations, said the town council spokesman. "It only deters insects from landing on the walls; it does not kill them."

She said the town council will continue urging residents to do the Mozzie Wipeout. It has also stepped up efforts to fight Zika transmission by cleaning and oiling drains. "We will monitor the effects of this paint and review whether to use it again when other blocks are scheduled for repair and redecoration."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline Town council using anti-mosquito paint. Subscribe