Today we’re blogging about Structural fumigation, but before we get started, let’s take a step back and start with the basics, including what fumigation is and is not, and then moving onto Structural fumigation specifically.
What is fumigation and when is it used?
The term ‘fumigation’ is often used loosely to describe general pest control like getting rid of nuisance or opportunistic pests like cockroaches, flies or ants. This is incorrect!
As explained in Wikipedia, “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), 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 woodborers and drywood termites.
You can see from the definition above that ‘fumigation’ is a very specialised service and it differs vastly from a general pest treatment.
In most instances, fumigation is used in industries that are prone to stored-product insects like cereals, grain, tobacco or spices, and particularly in the export industry. Wooden products and furniture, logs, dunnage, pallets, as well as some commodities, may need fumigation or ISPM15 certification before they can be exported.
You can read more about the various types of fumigation and what each entails in our previous blog post: Unpacking Fumigation. As mentioned there, Structural fumigation can be a very complicated and hazardous application and is used mostly to combat wood boring insects and dry wood termite infestations. It can also be used for uncontrollable bed bug infestations - which I should add are very rare in South Africa (I’ve certainly not come across in my time with Rentokil).
What exactly is Structural fumigation or ‘tenting’?
Like the name suggests, Structural fumigation is when an entire structure or building is securely covered to create an enclosed, tent-like structure, hence the term ‘tenting’. Fumigant gas is then inserted into this tented area, permeates the entire structure and penetrates cracks, crevices, and even pores in wood to eliminate the targeted pest.
‘Tape and seal’ is another method of structural fumigation where only the infected area, or areas where signs of pest activity have been noted, is sealed off and the fumigant inserted.
Ensuring an effective treatment:
Once we have secured the entire fumigation and risk areas, we will cover the structure with a tarpaulin. The tarpaulin is not a tent that is used for camping, but a fit for purpose 200 micron tarpaulin.
As with all fumigation methods, the fumigation area firstly needs to be ‘gas-tight’ to prevent any fumigant leakage. PVC sand snakes and tape are used to secure the tarpaulin to prevent it from lifting and the fumigant escaping. This is an essential step to ensure there is no gas leakage.
Why is this so important? An exact amount of gas is prescribed on the fumigant label in order to ensure the efficacy of the treatment. If gas continues to escape, the treatment cannot be guaranteed to be successful.
Only once a full risk assessment has been carried out will the correct amount of fumigant and the time required for the treatment be calculated. This has to be accurate and we have specific calculation tools to do this. Too much fumigant means wastage, and too little could mean the efficacy of the treatment cannot be guaranteed. Rentokil uses gas measurement tools to ensure the correct amount of fumigant gas (measured in parts per million) is inserted into the area to be effective to either eradicate the identified pest, or as a precautionary requirement when exporting certain goods.
We also insert gas monitoring lines to constantly monitor gas readings to ensure the correct amount of fumigant gas is administered for the entire duration of the treatment.
Safety is the MOST important thing!
Rentokil’s various fumigation treatments all comply with relevant legislation which includes the manufacturer's MSDS, government regulations, our own Global rules and regulations, and also our standard operating procedures which are specific to each job.
In another recent blog Fumigation: why safety is a BIG deal!, we fill you in on all our safety protocols and how we ensure the safety of our customers and staff at all times during a fumigation treatment, which starts with a full survey of the task required and a detailed risk assessment of our customers' premises. We explain how important it is that technicians wear full safety gear, including personal gas leakage detection and monitoring equipment, and specialised breathing respirators (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus or SCBA).
All our measurement equipment is regularly checked and calibrated to ensure accurate readings and all fumigation branches are audited once per quarter against our Global standards protocol and full compliance is mandatory.
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 enquiry 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 expectations. If we haven't managed to answer all of your questions about fumigation, head over to our FAQ page on the website.
Contact Rentokil today to discuss how we can assist you with your fumigation requirements.