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Update: LG Electronics guilty of 'counterfeit vector control'?

December 20, 2012 - 10:55 -- Bart G.J. Knols


The BBC published an article on the myths of mosquito repellers based on ultrasounds following articles on MalariaWorld. Amazingly, in spite of the massive evidence that is there to show that ultrasounds do nothing to repel mosquitoes, the electronics giant LG has started to market an air conditioner in Nigeria that incorporates ultrasound. The company published a news release titled 'LG fights malaria in Nigeria with hi-tech air conditioner'... 

Jun-hwa Jeong, LG's General Manager of air conditioning and energy solutions even stated in the release that "The Anti-Mosquito air conditioner is a great example of our commitment to improving both health security and the quality of life in Africa by applying technological innovations in intelligent ways.”

MalariaWorld contacted LG to ask for evidence but has not received any information to substantiate the claim that "on average 64 percent of malaria-transmitting female Anopheles mosquitoes within 24 hours and 82 percent overall" were deterred by their invention. They informed us that the signal is much higher than that usually used in ultrasound gadgets, in the range of 30-100 kHz. It is very unlikely that such high frequencies can be detected by mosquitoes and have any biological meaning. Given the absence of information from LG, and the massive evidence that ultrasounds do not work, we must for now conclude that this is yet another example of what can be called 'counterfeit mosquito control'.

This week, MalariaWorld received word from Simon Chin, LG's in charge of R&D on this air conditioner. Dr. Chin reported in an email that 'we [LG] are in the process of re-evaluating our marketing materials'. That is a good thing of course, but the issue remains: does this device work to repel and kill mosquitoes as is claimed by the company?

Dr. Chin reported that the company is not willing to share data to substantiate its claims, and said: 'Please understand that at this moment we cannot provide the testing details for security reasons. However, if you are interested, we would be delighted to hear your opinions and discuss the issue as we are working on developing mosquito repelling technologies.'

MalariaWorld responded by we would not necessarily ask for insight into the functioning of the device but rather see the experimental data that showed efficacy. We also mentioned that, should the experiments indeed have been conducted in a proper manner and results be convincing, that we would certainly promote the device amongst the MalariaWorld subscribers.

So far we have not received feedback from LG. Please comment and tell us what you think about this product and the way LG promotes it for malaria control in Africa...