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Something to Know About Fumigation

Process

The fumigation process is usually done in a phased manner. As a first step, the entire area that needs fumigation is sealed off or covered. Next, the area is fumigated, i.e. the chemicals are released in the covered space which may be a home, an office, a warehouse or storage complex, underground cellar, ship cargo containers, etc. In the third phase, the fumigant is allowed time to completely fill the enclosed space and kill the pest itself (woodborers, termites) or pest infestations (eggs, larvae). Finally, the area is ventilated with fresh air and sunlight so that no trace of the chemical or gas is left behind. Once this process is completed and thorough inspection is done, the area is certified ‘pest free’.

Chemicals used in fumigation

Until the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty signed in the late 1980s to protect the Ozone layer of the atmosphere from depletion, was signed the random use of many chemicals was widespread. The widely used fumigant at the time was Methyl Bromide; its production and use were restricted later.

The list of fumigants in use includes:

• Formaldehyde
• Phosphine
• Chloropicrin
• Sulfuryl Fluoride
• Methyl Isocyanate
• Hydrogen Cyanide

Methods of fumigation

Broadly, fumigation methods can be categorized into surface and sub-surface. Surface treatments refer to fumigation done on exposed surface areas. Sub-surface refers to treatments where gases or chemicals have to be applied into spaces like soil, cargo containers and storage tanks etc. Sub-surface fumigation methods are:

• Tubing
• Trenched
• Short Probe
• Long Probe
• Combination
• Recirculation

The methods adopted for surface fumigation depend greatly on the situation, circumstance and the nature of pest and pesticide. For homes, the ‘Tenting Method’ is used, where a rubber tent is placed to seal off the area. In larger structures like entire buildings, other options that take into account the size of the building and infestation come into play.

Safety

Fumigation has to be done in an extremely non-hazardous manner and the agency or operator who carries out the process has to be a certified authority with knowledge of the chemicals and how they can be used so as to ensure maximum safety to life and property. The area of knowledge comprises the proportion of fumigant to be used in relation to the area, type of fumigant, time duration for fumigation to take effect and complete ventilation post-fumigation.

Eco-friendly fumigation measures

Many pest control and pest service companies place great emphasis in defining and following eco-friendly pest control and fumigation methods that do not harm or endanger the environment in any way. Newer and advanced practices of pest control follow the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) method that focuses on three standard principles. These are:

1. Pest Control Education – It is the onus of the pest control agency to educate customers on the nature of pests, their behavior and enlighten them on preventive measures to protect homes, offices and other buildings from being infested in the first place, which is very vital to the pest control process.

2. Proactive Pest Prevention – this is a three-way process.

i. Eliminating food source of the pest – e.g. unwashed dishes in the sink, garbage, unsanitary home conditions

ii. Remove water sources – wet and soggy conditions in home areas or buildings, stagnant or still water sources like ponds, fountains, tanks, dry leaf clusters in gardens etc.

iii. Destroy shelter areas – holes or crevices in walls, pipes, roof tops, ceilings, ground, basement etc. Also tree branches that extend towards the Fumigaciones de Casas should be chopped off so that they do not touch the building; use of window screens and meshes are also useful.

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