This article states that Kenyan researchers report insecticide-treated bed nets can reduce malaria-related deaths in children. While these nets appear to provide preventive measures against malaria, my only concern is the toxicity of the insecticides. The World Health Organization lists two of the insecticides used on the nets, bifenthrin and permethrin, as possible human carcinogens. Deltamethrin and cyfluhrin can have harmful effects on the nervous and endocrine systems. Is it ethical to prevent one disease now, but possibly foster the development of other diseases in the future?

Loren Babirak
Orono, Maine

WHO calls insecticide-treated bed nets “one of the most effective prevention measures for malaria.” WHO recommends nets that are treated with permethrin, etofenprox, or a pyrethroid. Katherine Macintyre of Tulane University says these insecticides pose a health risk “only if you swallow them.” Studies over the past 20 years show little public health danger from them. “Next to malaria, it’s nothing,” Macintyre says. —N. Seppa