WITH Zika woes hammering the nation and dengue cases buzzing steadily, mosquito repellent and insecticide products have been flying off the shelves in Singapore stores.
Japan-based paint manufacturer Kansai Paint reckons it has the real deal: the company has developed a water-based interior paint that uses a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide, permethrin, to repel mosquitoes as well as other pests such as spiders and ants.
Dubbed the ALES Anti-MosQ, the paint has been available for sale in Singapore since the end of last year. But it "does not have a lot of awareness" at the moment, said Richard Leong, chief operating officer of Kansai Paint Singapore, as the paint is currently available only at one retail outlet in Defu Lane.
He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the International Green Building Conference, Build Eco Xpo and Mostra Convegno Expocomfort Asia 2016 in Marina Bay Sands.
The odourless paint works by disrupting the nervous system of mosquitoes and disabling their bites when they land on painted walls, which are cool places for mosquitoes to rest on during the daytime.
Suited to Singapore's equatorial climate, the paint's repellent properties last up to three years. During its testing process, Kansai found the paint to be successful in repelling "more than 80 per cent" of mosquitoes - including the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is a carrier of the dengue and Zika viruses.
Such a product could be especially useful now, given the Zika outbreak here; as at Wednesday, the total number of Zika cases transmitted locally stood at 283.
Dengue too has continued to rear its ugly head. As at Monday, there have been 11,343 reported cases of the mosquito-borne disease this year - 57 more than there were in the whole of 2015. Authorities have warned that the number of dengue cases may exceed 30,000 this year, which would be an all-time high.
Kansai's ALES Anti-MosQ is the only anti-mosquito paint in Singapore that has been approved for commercial sale by the National Environment Agency (NEA), Mr Leong said.
Asked if the product harms humans, he replied: "We have done tests on the skin and (orally). It is proven to be non-lethal, the amount we use, and NEA has looked at it very carefully . . . in the end, we got the approval from them."
The paint also found favour with Nee Soon Town Council, which has signed a contract with Kansai for the painting of common areas - void decks, lift lobbies and corridors - in 18 HDB blocks in Yishun. The first phase of painting is expected to start next month.