WINNIPEG – The City of Winnipeg has scooped up 67 slightly leaky jugs of second-hand malathion from Saskatchewan to top up its dwindling stockpile of the chemical it uses to kill adult mosquitoes.
City spokeswoman Lisa Fraser says Winnipeg paid $12,600 for the 10-litre jugs and no indemnification agreement had to be signed.
At the end of the summer, the city’s insect control branch possessed only enough malathion to fog the entire city one and a half times.
Winnipeg couldn’t purchase any more malathion because the chemical’s distributor demanded the city sign an indemnification waiver, absolving all responsibility for applying the insecticide.
As luck would have it, Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health had 670 litres of old and unwanted malathion sitting inside a storage facility south of Indian Head, a town on the Trans-Canada Highway east of Regina.
According to SaskSurplus, a Government of Saskatchewan agency that gets rid of old equipment, the Health Ministry purchased the jugs of malathion in 2003.
The listing says the product is old but has been stored properly and although the seals on the jugs are starting to leak, it was tested this year and found to have acceptable levels of purity.
In 2017, the city hopes to switch to a new fogging agent called DeltaGard, a synthetic pyrethroid, derived from chrysanthemum flowers and already approved for use in the U.S. DeltaGard’s active ingredient, deltamethrin, is purported to be less harmful than malathion to a broad range of insects and other invertebrates.
In August, Health Canada gave Winnipeg permission to test DeltaGard. If its use is approved in Canada on a permanent basis, it could mean the end of mosquito-fogging buffer zones. U.S. tests found the chemical had no harmful effects on people.
While Health Canada considers malathion fogging safe when the chemical is applied in low volumes, it is a suspected carcinogen and is toxic if ingested in large amounts.