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Fumigation

IFC’s highly trained fumigation specialists are the leaders in the industry. Our fumigation teams are certified and comprehensively trained in safety and current techniques for fumigating all types of containers, ships, barges and structures containing food and non-food products.

Overview


Fumigations are highly specialized treatments that employ the power of gas formulations in sufficient concentration to effectively eliminate target pests. Fumigants possess “unique properties and capabilities that permit use in numerous situations where other forms of control are not feasible or practical” (FAO 1989). Since fumigants are true gases, individual gas molecules can penetrate into and back out of materials being treated as well as into cracks and crevices or other difficult to reach pest harborage areas that may be found in the treatment site.

All fumigants available for use in the food industry are heavily regulated to help ensure the safety of their use. EPA classifies these pesticides as Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP’s); only state certified pesticide applicators may apply fumigants. EPA product labeling contains additional requirements for use including the development of a Fumigation Management Plan in advance of any fumigation treatment. EPA registered product labeling is considered the law and must be followed.

General Fumigation

“General Fumigation” is a term used in the food industry to describe treating a space where food commodities are found (as opposed to the term “Structural Fumigation” used to describe treatments that target wood destroying insects such as termites found in wood members of a structure). During a General Fumigation treatment, the volume of space included in the treatment area is used to calculate how much fumigant will be necessary to provide an effective target concentration. Prior to introducing the fumigant, the treatment site will need to be made sufficiently gas tight so that the proper concentration can be maintained for the proper time to kill the target pest. Gas monitoring during the treatment allows the fumigator in charge to determine if additional gas needs to be added to maintain proper concentrations. Additional site preparation will be planned in advanced with your IFC Representative so that an effective treatment is properly carried out.

Spot Fumigation


Spot fumigation may be defined as the short-term treatment of processing machinery and equipment with phosphine fumigant for control of the adult and larval life stages of insects which infest food and feed particles remaining within the equipment. These spot treatments are intended to interrupt the life cycles of the insect pests. Since one or more life stages may survive this short-term treatment, spot fumigations must be repeated periodically to control insect infestations. Phosphine gas is effective against all life stages of insects when proper dosage and exposure times are observed; however, exposure times of 3 to 5 days or longer and proper sealing of equipment are required to kill all life stages. An effective fumigation program to disrupt the insect life cycle would include the use of Magtoxin on a monthly schedule when necessary so that those life stages that survived the first treatment or have been recently introduced into the equipment can be killed during subsequent treatments.

Once all equipment to be treated is identified, it must be inspected for significant sources of leakage. Your IFC Manager can assist in determining what equipment is a good candidate for a spot treatment and best methods for sealing. In some instances work orders to facility maintenance personnel may be necessary to repair machinery, transfer lines, bins, or other equipment to improve gas retention in treated areas.

Railcars/Trailers/Containers


Fumigant labeling allows for the treatment of railcars (stationary or in-transit), and containers, trailers or other transport vehicles (fumigation in-transit over public roads is prohibited). These type of treatment sites can be easily sealed and treated as needed. Treatments should not be scheduled when ambient air temperatures are low, unless the site can be heated, for example via the use of a heated reefer trailer. In the grain milling industry, flour cars are commonly fumigated during the warmer months while in transit, as part of a quality assurance program. The shipper must provide advanced notice to the railcar receiver site and the receiving site must have procedures in place to properly receive and aerate the fumigated commodity, including a Fumigation Management Plan.

Grain Bins, Flat Storage and Vertical Storage Sites
(such as Concrete Bins or Silos)


Direct fumigation of stored grain is another treatment option that fumigant labeling allows. In addition to proper sealing, fumigant movement throughout a large grain mass needs to be carefully considered in order for an effective treatment to occur. Research shows that without proper recirculation, fumigant gas will move up and down within the grain mass depending on daily temperature fluctuations, updrafts and temperature differences between the grain mass and ambient air temperature (Reed 2006). Proper gas monitoring during the treatment is very important so that effective concentrations are maintained throughout the entire grain mass over the duration of the required treatment time.

Fumigation of Ships or Containers Aboard Ships



Ship holds of grain may be fumigated while the ship is in-transit. However special safety considerations must be taken into account to ensure the ship crew’s safety. In-transit ship fumigations are governed by the U.S. Coast Guard and extra paperwork and inspections must be completed prior to the treatment. Fumigated containers may also be loaded onto ships to complete the fumigation treatment time while intransit. Additional safety procedures are required by DOT RSPA to ensure safety during the voyage.

Barge Fumigations


Grain loaded barges may be fumigated while in-transit. Product labeling states that leaks are a common cause of failures in the treatment of commodity aboard barges so it is especially important to make sure all hatches are tight. Just as with fumigated in-transit railcars, the shipper must notify the site receiving fumigated barges so that proper receipt and unloading of the fumigated site can occur. Barge fumigations are also regulated by the Coast Guard and a Special Permit 2-75 must be obtained prior to the fumigation.

Tarpaulin and Bunker Fumigations


Poly sheeting or fumigation tarps are another way that commodity can be covered to create a relatively gas tight enclosure for fumigation treatments. Commonly referred to as tarp fumigations, it is important to make sure the treatment site around the tarp is secure since the tarp could easily be punctured or otherwise damaged. Bystander safety also needs to be carefully considered if personnel will remain onsite during the treatment and aeration period.

References:
Bond, E.J. 1989. Manual of Fumigation for Insect Control. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, Italy.
Reed, C.R. 2006. Managing Stored Grain. AACC International. St. Paul, MN