LEADING international mosquito researchers have slammed white goods and smartphone apps that promise to zap mozzies with ultrasonic waves as misleading, “grossly unethical” and potentially dangerous.
The devices and apps use ultrasonic waves which they claim repel the insects through a low-level or inaudible noise.
Korean electronics giant LG makes a “Mosquito Away“ television and air conditioner, citing tests at a Nigerian university proving it can repels mosquitoes, and the Apple App Store has more than 50 apps that claim to repel mosquitoes with ultrasonic noise.
Apple declined to comment on the ultrasonic mosquito zapping apps in the App Store.
Although LG has released the anti-malaria white goods in Africa and Asia, LG Australia General Manager of Marketing Angus Jones said there were “no plans to release products of this kind in Australia”.
Queensland and NSW health authorities have dismissed the apps and gadgets as making claims with no credible scientific evidence.
NSW Health Pathology mosquito researcher Dr Cameron Webb said there was “no evidence that sound (of any kind) repels mosquitoes”.
“Sound emitting devices have been marketed purported to repel mosquitoes for many years, long before smartphones became so widespread,” Dr Webb said.
“Studies continue to find that there is no influence on mosquitoes biting behaviour when one of these devices is used. In fact, one study even found that those wearing sound emitting devices attracted more mosquito bites.”
Professor Scott Ritchie, of the Centre for Biosecurity in Tropical Infectious Diseases at James Cook University said the ultrasonic repellents “won’t do anything”.
“People are suckers for these sorts of things even though they’re not correct,” he said.
Dr Bart Knols, medical entomologist and an internationally recognised leader in malaria research, said “there is not a shrine of evidence that these products or apps do anything to repel mosquitoes”.
Dr Knols, who is the author of several books and more than 140 scientific articles on mosquitoes, said smartphone apps and devices got were able to make unverified claims because they were not medical accredited devices or drugs.
He said products that falsely claimed to repel mosquitoes were dangerous because people using them may “expose themselves (unknowingly) to potentially lethal bites from mosquitoes in areas where these transmit dangerous infectious diseases.
“I find it grossly unethical that we allow people to buy such products while we know that they don’t work. After all, we are talking here about the health of people and their exposure to potentially lethal diseases,” he said.
“I find it amazing that the Android and App store ban apps with racist, discriminatory, terrorism, or porn content but leave such fake, misleading, and dangerous apps for sale.”
LG claims lab tests showed the technology repelled up to 82 per cent of mosquitoes although Dr Knols said LG had not responded to his numerous requests to supply the data of the tests.
A disclaimer on the LG products says mosquitoes could become resistant to the technology in the white goods, that different mosquito species may not be repelled and the technology was “not intended to replace other protective devices against mosquitoes”.