Anti-Malarial Nets and the 1st Precept

I feel like this must be a well-trodden issue given where Therevada Buddhism comes from, and how many monks I’ve heard talk about their experience with malaria - is the use or distribution of insecticide-treated nets (“bednets” - though they can be hung in other places) considered a violation of either the 1st lay precept or any monastic precepts.

Just because of how other threads about precepts have gone, I want to make very clear I’m not interested in judging any monastics, bringing in external moral systems in to judge the precepts, or anything like that. I really just want to know how these devices are generally viewed in the framework of the precepts, in the context of Therevada-majority countries with endemic malaria.

Are you talking about Permethrin treated nets? Please see this thread:


Thank you very much for the link and your contributions to that thread.

When I posed this question, I actually was fairly ignorant about the chemicals used. Looking into it more, I see that I was thinking about the broad category of “LLIN” nets (long lasting insecticidal nets) which are normally treated with pyrethroids, one of which is the permethrin you spoke of. It seems to me that all of the chemicals are fairly similar - but then again, a short while ago it didn’t even occur to me to look into which chemicals were being used at all.

I’m also extremely pleased to have read your posts and links about Sri Lanka no longer having endemic malaria!

It seems, based on my reading of that thread, that there essentially just isn’t a clear answer on this? You mentioned “wishful thinking” and some others sidestepped the issue by just focusing on speaking positively about repellents. Would it be fair to say that they are not condemned as violating the precepts, but not confidently declared to be acceptable within the precepts? A sort of known gray zone?

Thank you so much!

I’ve slept under a goodish number of mosquito nets in my time which were not sprayed with anything. They work fine to keep the mozzies out, you just have to tolerate their cheerful buzzing, from the other side.


I can’t really add anything more than what was in the thread. I would imagine different communities view them differently. And as @Gillian says, the nets work fine, so if that is you use, then the extra chemicals may not be needed.