Our most recent blog explains what you need to know about fumigation, what to do after a fumigation, and how our operations and protocols will impact your business throughout the fumigation process.
As you may be aware Rentokil’s fumigation service is a specialist method of pest control mainly for the export of commodities and stored product insect treatment (SPI) in the food processing and manufacturing industries. Our protocols around safety are focused on keeping our customers safe, our technicians safe, while also ensuring that the service carried out is in line with various audit compliances and international standards like CORESTA for tobacco.
We explain what you need to know about fumigation and how our operations and protocols will impact your business throughout the fumigation process.
1. Before the fumigation treatment
Before any fumigation treatment can be agreed to, a thorough site risk assessment (SRA) is completed to identify whether the treatment can be carried out safely. The SRA entails walking the entire site or area and inspecting the commodity to be treated.
In some cases the correct species must be identified in order to apply the correct fumigant. In such instances, traps can be used to collect samples for identification.
During the SRA any potential hazards that could impact the success of the treatment are identified, discussed and decisions made. In addition to this, a contingency plan for any unplanned eventualities like adverse weather conditions, or fire, floods, etc is also discussed and agreed by Rentokil and the customer.
“Why weather?” you may ask. Phosphine gas, one of the more commonly used fumigants, is highly combustible when it comes into contact with water, so it stands to reason that this type of fumigant can’t be used in rainy weather, or close to bodies of water. In either case an alternative needs to be used as well as written into the contingency plan.
The fumigation area and risk areas are identified. Parts of the structure that are not in the fumigation scope need to be safe for the duration of the treatment. Any items within the premises that could possibly be damaged or cause an obstruction will be identified and the client advised to make alternative arrangements for those items. A simple example would be if there are staff working in offices in close proximity to the fumigation area, or even vehicles parked within the fumigation radius which need to be moved out of the risk area.
Did you know? Exposure to fumigants in a structure being fumigated could result in death or serious injury.
All our fumigation solutions comply with relevant legislation which includes the manufacturers’ MSDS, government regulations, pink notes, our own Global rules and regulations, and standard operating procedures which are specific to each task.
Our equipment checklists are in place to ensure that everything is in good working order before we arrive at your premises, and these are rechecked before the work commences. Local branch audits are carried out on all equipment regularly, and Global audits are carried out by our Global Category Technical Manager (Specialist Services) annually. All our measuring and monitoring tools are calibrated regularly to accurately record and monitor fumigant gas readings. Without regular calibration of equipment, the success of the treatment cannot be deemed successful.
Did you know? Measuring equipment must be calibrated at regular intervals in order to maintain accuracy thus assuring reliable benchmarks and results.
2. During the fumigation treatment
The fumigation area needs to be ‘gas-tight’ to prevent any fumigant leakage and to ensure everyone’s safety, and a successful fumigation. We use sand-snakes and fumigation tape to seal any areas where the gas may escape or leak eg air vents, holes around pipes, windows that cannot seal, etc.
With Methyl Bromide being phased out and using Sulfuryl Fluoride (ProFume) to treat SPI’s, treatment times can be shortened as the insects have not yet built up a resistance to the new fumigant.
Part of the safety process is that the fumigation area is cordoned off and signage clearly displayed. Absolutely no-one is allowed to enter a structure until it has been certified safe for re-entry by the licensee in charge of the fumigation.
Gas measurement tools are used to ensure the correct amount of fumigant gas is inserted to be effective in eradicating the identified pest, or as required for the exporting of certain goods.
Gas monitoring lines are inserted into the fumigation area. These constantly monitor gas readings, to ensure the correct amount (parts per million) of fumigant gas is administered to guarantee the efficacy of the treatment.
Rentokil uses specialized gas leakage detection tools for the duration of the treatment: these identify any gas leakages, ensuring both the safety of our teams and that remedial solutions can quickly be actioned without affecting the efficacy of the treatment.
Keeping our staff safe is our number one priority and personal breathing apparatus and monitoring equipment and devices are used to ensure individual safety during the treatment – inhalation of a fumigant gas can be lethal!
Did you know? Phosphine has a garlic odour while ProFume has no odour and personal gas leakage detection equipment must be worn by technicians. This is one of the dangers of fumigation you should be aware of.
3. After the fumigation treatment
Once a specialist fumigation job is completed, the container or structure needs to be aerated to expel the fumigant. Constant gas measurements are taken to ensure that the toxic fumigant gasses have been expelled and the gas readings are at an acceptable level.
This aeration process is the reason we do not carry out fumigation in transit. There are, however, many companies who still offer this service. Fumigation in transit is highly dangerous, and is deemed illegal by Pest Control Associations like SAPCA (The South African Pest Control Association).
At Rentokil, we ensure that the risk is reduced by aerating the structure or container and only once the fumigant is expelled to acceptable levels will it be safe to proceed to its destination or for people to re-enter the structure.
Did you know? If no gas readings are taken during a fumigation treatment, you cannot be guaranteed that the treatment was successful.
Innovation and training:
Like everything else in the world today, there is continuous change in market trends and technology. Pests are evolving too. With our R&D department and global support structure we continue to innovate keeping us ahead of the market (and pests!) at all times. We train and assess our technicians constantly in our monthly branch meetings and in the field, keeping them up to date with the latest technology and servicing methods.
Our experience in the field of fumigation – and particularly safety – has set us ahead in the marketplace and we look forward to providing you with safe specialist fumigation services when the need arises.