We often refer to general pest control services as ‘fumigation’, but in fact ‘fumigation’ is a specialised pest service used mostly, but not limited to, exporting goods, the commercial food manufacturing industry, and also when large items or structures are infested with wood boring insects.
If we take a step back, our previous blog on ‘The fumigation process, explained…‘ explained what fumigation is all about and in which instances it can be used.
What is fumigation?
Wikipedia says that fumigation is
“a method of pest control that completely fills an area with gaseous pesticides or fumigants to suffocate or poison the pests within. It is used to control pests in buildings (structural fumigation which you can read more about), soil, grain, and produce, and is also used during processing of goods to be imported or exported to prevent transfer of exotic organisms. This method also affects the structure itself, affecting pests that inhabit the physical structure, such as wood borers and drywood termites.”
And according to the NCPC (National Certificate in Pest Control) handbook which is used by our technicians to acquire their certification, fumigation is defined as:
‘the act of introducing a toxic chemical into an enclosed space in such a manner that it disperses quickly and acts on the target pest in the gaseous or vapour state. Fumigation is one of the methods for controlling pests in stored products. The goal of fumigation is to confine enough gas for sufficient time to eradicate the target pest, which in normal conditions is achieved in a static chamber under control of one qualified fumigator.”
Read more about what fumigation is or isn’t in our post: Fumigation 101: An expert explains it all.
Common fumigation terminology:
According to the NCPC handbook, “fumigants are a group of pesticides that can kill insects where no other form of control is feasible. Unlike aerosols and other contact insecticides, fumigants can exist in a gaseous state. The unique property of fumigants is that as gases they diffuse as separate molecules, which enables them to penetrate into the material being fumigated and to diffuse away afterwards.”
Basically, a fumigant is a poisonous substance used in the extermination of insects or unwanted pests that could cause harm, contamination or damage to property, grain, soil, produce, etc.
These are the registered fumigants Rentokil is authorized to use:
1. Phosphine (Magnesium Phosphide and Aluminium Phosphide or PH3) comes in the form of pellets, tablets or plates, and these react with the moisture in the air to produce a gas. Phosphine is authorised for the fumigation of food products and can be used to control stored product insects (SPI’s) and pests in other commodities. With the correct aeration processes, it will not leave a residue or taint the product in any way.
2. Methyl bromide (MB) comes in a liquid form, presented in a gas cylinder. It is dispensed via shooting lines into the commodity and it converts to a gas when it reacts with the moisture in the air.
Methyl Bromide has been in use for many years, but due to the damage it causes to the stratospheric ozone layer, this product is being phased out globally as finalised in the Montreal Protocol in 1987.
3. Sulfuryl Fluoride (or Profume) is being phased into the industry as an alternative to methyl bromide. Rentokil’s technical team have successfully applied the use of this alternative fumigant where possible.
We are also continually researching and testing new products that are sustainable and effective for use during fumigations.
SRA – Site Risk Assessment
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. Read more on Why Safety is a big deal to Rentokil South Africa and how much we focus on living up to our motto of ‘Ensuring everyone goes home safe’.
The SRA entails walking the entire site or area and inspecting the commodity to be treated. Any potential hazards that could impact safety and the success of the treatment are identified, discussed, and decisions made. In addition to this, a contingency plan for any unplanned eventualities is also discussed and agreed upon by Rentokil and the customer.
‘Gas-tight’ refers to how well the commodity or area being fumigated is sealed to prevent any fumigant leakage. 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. These are all identified in the SRA and also ensures everyone’s safety, and the success of a fumigation treatment.
Gas monitoring lines
These are feed lines or shooting lines that are inserted into the commodity being fumigated and constantly monitor gas readings. This is to ensure the correct amount (parts per million) of fumigant gas is administered to guarantee the efficacy of the treatment. Without the monitoring equipment and the interval readings from our porta sens measuring equipment, the fumigation cannot be guaranteed successful.
All our measuring and monitoring tools are calibrated regularly to accurately record and monitor fumigant gas readings. Measuring equipment must be calibrated at regular intervals in order to maintain its accuracy thus assuring reliable benchmarks and results.
This is a very important step in the fumigation process and one often overlooked. Once a fumigation job is completed, the container or structure needs to be aerated to expel the fumigant. Constant gas measurements are taken during the aeration process to ensure that all 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.
Why you need to choose a professional pest control company
In the most recent tragedy in Durban aired on Carte Blanche, there is no doubt that you seriously need to consider using a professional company for your fumigation services and also for general home pest control treatments.
Find out what differentiates Rentokil’s fumigation services from other providers in an interview with one of our experts Deena Govender, our Quality Assurance Manager based in KZN.
Rentokil Initial UK has been also been awarded the RoSPA Gold Award for five consecutive years in recognition of our Health & Safety capability.
With over 50 years of experience in South Africa and 90 years of global experience in fumigation, we are confident in our ability to offer expert advice on any fumigation inquiry you may have. Our services are supported by our local fumigation teams and managers to ensure that any treatment you receive from us meets and exceeds your expectation.