Fumigation is the most widely used technique for pest management and elimination. It requires the usage of pesticides or pest retardants in gaseous form, referred as fumigants, to poison pests inside a residential area, business complex or public space which has been infested. Fumigation can also be utilized in agriculture or grain produce to avoid the soil being infected or during the import and export of goods to eliminate insects, worms and organisms that could be transported from onearea to another. While unnecessary use of chemicals in almost any form is avoided,as it may harm human and animal life or the structure of buildings, the procedure is not only good for pest elimination, it also prevents pests frominfesting the same area again.
The fumigation process is generally completed in phases. The initial step being, the whole area that requires fumigation is sealed off or covered. Next, the area is fumigated. Harmful chemicals are released into the target space. This can be a house, business offices, a warehouse or storage complex, underground cellar, ship cargo containers or any area needing attention. In the third phase, the fumigant is allowed time to completely fill the enclosed space and eliminate the pest threats (woodborers, termites, etc) or pest infestations (eggs, larvae). Finally, the region is ventilated with clean air and sunlight to ensure that no trace of the chemical or gas remains in the fumigated area. Once this procedure is complete and a thorough inspection is performed, the region is then certified ‘pest free’.
Chemicals utilized in fumigation
Before the Montreal Protocol, a worldwide treaty signed in the late nineteen eighties to help protect depletion of the Ozone layer and atmospheric pollution, was signed, the random usage of many harmful chemicals was widespread. The most commonly used fumigant was Methyl Bromide; its production and usage were restricted due to its harmful and dangerous properties.
This list of dangerous fumigants used include:
- Sulfuric Fluoride
- Methyl Isocyanate
- Hydrogen Cyanide
Ways of fumigation
Broadly speaking, fumigation methods can be categorized into surface and sub-surface. Surface treatments make reference to fumigation done on exposed surface areas. Sub-surface describes treatments where gases or chemicals need to be injected or applied into spaces like soil, cargo containers and storage tanks.
Sub-surface fumigation methods are:
- Short Probe
- Long Probe
The techniques adopted for surface fumigation depend greatly on the situation, circumstance and the nature of the pests and pesticides. For homes, the ‘Tenting Method’ is usually used, where a rubber tent is positioned to seal off of the area. In large structures, like entire buildings, choices that look at the dimensions of the property and degree of infestation enter into play.
Fumigation needs to be conducted in an incredibly non-hazardous manner. The agency or operator that performs any procedure needs to be a qualified authority, with an understanding of the harmful chemicals and how they must be employed to ensure maximum safety for humans, pets and property. The range of information needed comprises of the proportional ratio of fumigant to be used to the target region or area, the type of fumigant, time duration for fumigation to take effect and finish and, the ventilation and post-fumigation procedures.
Eco-friendly fumigation measures
Many pest management and pest service companies place great emphasis in defining and following eco-friendly pest management and fumigation methods which do not harm or endanger the environment. Newer and more advanced practices in pest management, stick to the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) method that concentrates on three standard principles. These are:
- Pest Management Education – The pest management agency must educate customers on the nature of pests andpestbehaviour. They should also enlighten customers on measures to safeguard and prevent homes, offices and other buildings from being infested initially, This is vital in the pest management process.
- Proactive Pest Prevention – this is a three-way process:
- Eliminating sources of food from the pest – e.g. unwashed dishes in the sink, garbage and unsanitary home conditions
- Removing water sources – wet and soggy conditions in the homeor in buildings and stagnant or still water sources like ponds, fountains, tanks, dry leaf clusters in gardens.
iii. Destroying shelter areas – holes or crevices in walls, pipes, roof tops, ceilings, ground, basementsetc., and tree branches that extend to the house should be trimmed so they do not touch the building. The usage of window screens and meshes can also be useful in this area.
- Environmental responsibility – choice of material for fumigant should be extremely low-risk or nil-risk.
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