What are the different types of fumigation? How do they differ in methods and safety considerations? Find out.

What chemicals are used in fumigation? The use of fumigants is an efficient pest control method that is used the world over.

We’ll also get into the details of these chemical fumigants and what they do.

During pest control, a whole lot of strategies are deployed to bring about the total elimination of such pests.

Fumigation is among the most popular extermination methods. This involves the use of chemicals and is mostly provided by industrial and residential pest control services.

Types Of Fumigation

There are several types of fumigation techniques that will be mentioned and discussed here. Which is best for your pest situation is entirely up to you.

A pest management technician is likely to recommend a fumigation type based on your preferences and the type of pest problem being treated.

Are All Fumigation Techniques Hazardous?

All fumigants are meant to be toxic. Plus, these lethal concentrations are applied to have the desired effect on pests.

A simple way to determine its toxicity is by focusing on the safety procedures for application. Professional pest control technicians are always seen to wear protective clothing.

These are akin to hazmat suits and are meant to protect the technician from inhalation. Whatever type of fumigation it is you apply, it’s best to stay far away from the fumigated area until treatment is over. All fumigants, by their nature, are penetrating.

In other words, they are meant to penetrate all most materials and tight spaces likely to serve as hiding spots for pests.

However, this doesn’t mean that fumigants will need to be focused or applied to hard-to-reach areas. Rather, it spreads by diffusion. In severe cases of pest infestation, diffusion may need to be improved by using fans to help diffuse fumigants more evenly across the area.

You want to be as far away as possible during fumigation. There have been several cases of accidents where people have been killed by fumigant poisoning. You don’t want to be a part of this unfortunate statistic. Professional pest control services ensure apply strict safety measures.

Apart from physically inspecting to ensure everyone is out of a property before fumigation, a warning agent is applied. This is called chloropicrin.

Once released into the property, it causes all sorts of irritations to flush everyone out before the main fumigant is applied. Chloropicrin causes upper respiratory plus eye irritation.

  • Tenting

As part of the safety requirements to ensure people don’t get poisoned from fumigation, tenting is necessary. This keeps or traps the fumigant which was applied at a certain concentration.

That way, it penetrates all hidden areas and tight spots and exterminates pests fast.

Target Pests

There are varieties of pests that are controlled or exterminated through fumigation. These include household pests as well as agricultural pests. Although there’s an almost inexhaustible list a few of them include termites, mice, rats, ants, bees, and wasps.

Others are earwigs, ladybugs, spiders, mosquitoes, weevils, moles, squirrels, chipmunks, fleas, roaches, bed bugs, and birds.

These are only some of the many pests which can be controlled through fumigation. Fumigation takes different forms, which takes us to the focus of our discussion; the types of fumigation.

3 Different Types Of Fumigation Procedure

There are three types of fumigation. These are gas fumigation, liquid fumigation, and solid fumigation. Each type serves a specific purpose. To further understand what each type is meant for, we’ll be expanding on each of them.

Without further ado, let’s proceed as follows;

  • Gas Fumigation

Gas fumigation is among the most popular fumigation techniques deployed by pest management services. These are mostly odorless and will require utmost adherence to safety instructions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the use of these gas fumigants.

Different gas fumigants are ideal for certain situations. A pest control service will determine what fits a particular pest situation. Sulfuryl fluoride is a fumigant mostly used to fumigate agricultural products such as tree nuts, dry fruits, and cereal grains.

Vikane gas and methyl bromide are gaseous fumigants used on a variety of insects, rodents, nematodes, and plant pests. Their application methods also differ and must only be used by a professional. Professional use is necessary as it helps avoid exposure to such hazardous gases.

Tenting of structures or areas where gas fumigants will be used is necessary. This traps the gas in at a certain concentration sufficient enough to penetrate target materials and tight spots. This moves by diffusion and is held for a while until all pests are exterminated.

Whether the structure is commercial, residential, or even agricultural products, you aren’t allowed to be there for your safety. At least until after the treatment when the gas fumigant has had its desired effect (exterminated all pests).

i. Warning Agent

Before gas fumigants are applied or pumped into a structure or target area, such a place will need to be free of pets or other humans. That is, apart from the technician who’s wearing protective gear. This was briefly mentioned earlier.

Why this is important is because most types of gas fumigants are odorless. This could pose a severe risk to persons within a building at the time of application. However, a warning agent like Chloropicrin helps avoid this from happening. Unlike fumigants, this gas is an irritant that serves to keep anyone or living thing out.

Having applied the warning agent, sufficient time (mostly a few minutes) is allowed to pass before gas fumigants are pumped in.

  • Liquid Fumigation

This is another type of fumigation applied with the same purpose of exterminating pests. Unlike gas fumigants, these fumigants are liquid-based and applied quite differently to all sorts of problems like mold, insects, and other pests.

One of the most important pieces of equipment needed for applying liquid fumigants is a sprayer.

Two things hold for liquid fumigants. That is, they are generally flammable, and are toxic to humans and pets.

Knowing this is important to help avoid fire and hazardous accidents. Liquid fumigants are mostly used in outdoor environments such as on farms and orchards.

That means they are mostly used to protect agricultural products from pest activity. However, this type of fumigation is also performed within enclosed areas too. Unlike outdoor environments where mist resulting from spraying such fumigants get easily dissipated, it takes a longer time to dissipate within enclosures.

The rule of thumb is to keep a distance throughout fumigation until it is considered safe to enter such areas. When using liquid fumigants, utmost care needs to be taken. That includes wearing protective gear and reading the safety instructions that come with such products.

So, what are these liquid fumigants? They are quite varied and include methyl bromide, carbon disulfide, ethylene dichloride, ethyl acetate, sulphuryl fluoride, and chloroform carbon tetrachloride. These are effective liquid fumigants used in a variety of pest conditions with great results.

  • Solid Fumigation

This is the third type of fumigation which is deployed for specific pest issues. The type of pest problem determines what fumigation method to apply, one of which has to do with the use of solid fumigation. Solid fumigants come in different forms.

These are powder, pellet, and tablet forms. Such solid fumigants aren’t just applied indiscriminately. Rather, it is measured like other types of fumigants and applied with caution. A specific amount of solid fumigants will cover or be sufficient for a specific area. So what dosage is ideal and sufficient to cover a particular area?

Well, first of all, you won’t have to be bothered with dosage as solid fumigation is also carried out by pest control professionals. You only need to point the way and give way for them to perform their job. Popular solid chemical fumigants include calcium cyanide and aluminum phosphide.

How about safety? Well, solid fumigants have been touted to be much safer compared to gas fumigants. Plus, these chemicals are milder on the environment despite exterminating pests effectively.

However, being safer only doesn’t translate to being harmless to humans. It only means they aren’t as harmful when compared to gas fumigants. A professional applying such fumigants will still need to wear protective gear. Exposure to these types of fumigants has been linked to several health conditions.

Each of these solid fumigants exterminates a variety of pests at different stages of development. That is, from the egg, larva, pupa, to adult stages. These are used to exterminate pests in agricultural products. This gives far-reaching solutions to all sorts of pest issues.

The adoption of this type of fumigation is determined by what is considered the best alternative by a pest control technician. After inspection of the problem, recommendations are given to you before proceeding with the process.

What is common with all pest control measures is that you are involved in the decision-making process. Most pest management services seek to offer highly satisfactory services that also includes customer service.

Classes Of Chemicals Used For Fumigation

Classification of fumigants has been deemed necessary due to their varying hazardous natures. In other words, there are fewer as well as more hazardous insecticides. This takes into consideration the toxicity of the active ingredients present.

As such, we would discuss these classes here. This is to help you distinguish between highly toxic and less toxic fumigants.

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (GHS) has collaborated with the World Health Organization. This is to map out a comprehensive fumigant classification system.

As a result, fumigants have been classified under Extremely Hazardous, Highly Hazardous, Moderately Hazardous, Slightly Hazardous, and Unlikely to Present Acute Hazard. Let’s briefly consider each of these.

  • Extremely Hazardous Chemicals

The name speaks for itself. Fumigants which fall under this category are highly toxic to human health. As such, the use of such chemicals is highly regulated. you’d need to be well trained before using them. When talking about such chemicals, we are talking about the technical grade active ingredients they contain.

The following technical grade active ingredients include; Aldicarb [ISO], Brodifacoum [ISO], and Bromadiolone [ISO]. Others are Bromethaline [ISO], Calcium Cyanide [C], Captafol [ISO], Chlorethoxyfos [ISO] and Chlormephos [ISO].

Additional chemicals are; Chlorophacinone [ISO], Diphenacoum [ISO], Diphethialone [ISO], Diphacinone [ISO] and Disulfoton [ISO].

Other extremely hazardous chemicals include EPN, Ethoprohos [ISO], Flocoumafen, Hexachlorobenzene [ISO], Mercuric chloride [ISO], Mevinphos [ISO], Parathione [ISO], and Phenylmecury acetate [ISO]. Phorate [ISO], Phosphamidon, Sodium fluoroacetate [C], Sulfotep [ISO], Tebupirimfos [ISO*], and Terbufos [ISO] are also included.

  • Highly Hazardous Chemicals

Fumigants that fall under this category are also highly toxic. Though not as extreme as those we just discussed above. Such pesticides contain several technical-grade active ingredients.

These include Acrolein [C], Allyl alcohol [C], Azinphos-ethyl [ISO], Azinphos-methyl [ISO], and Blasticidin-S.

More of these include Butocarboxim[ISO], Butoxycarboxim [ISO], Cadusafos [ISO], Calcium arcenate [C], and Carbofuran [ISO]. Chlorphenvinphos [ISO], 3-Chloro-1, 2-Propanedio [C], Coumaphos [ISO], Coumatretralyl [ISO], Cyfluthrin [ISO] and Beta-cyfluthrin are included.

Additional technical grade active ingredients include Zeta-cypermethrin [ISO] Demeton-S-methyl [ISO], Dichlorvos [ISO], and Dicrotophos [ISO].

Detailed information can be found on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard Guidelines.

  • Moderately Hazardous Chemicals

Moderately hazardous chemicals are used in certain fumigants. Though not as toxic as those discussed above, great caution needs to be applied. These types of fumigants are used by both professionals and non-professionals.

For non-professionals, These come with instructional manuals on how they should be applied. Such information should be fully understood and digested to enhance safety and achieve results.

As an unlicensed user, you’d find such mild fumigants in stores. But how can these be identified? These go by names such as dichlorvos, oil of red cedar, paradichlorobenzene, naphthalene, and several others.

However, certain restrictions may apply to your location. In other words, the legal angle will need to be considered.

Some states have restrictions on the use of certain chemicals. You’d have to find out from your state’s department of health. But such chemicals won’t be on display in stores, will they?

Therefore a good place to start is by checking these out in your local store. If there aren’t, chances are these are restricted for general use.

  • Slightly Hazardous

Certain fumigants, though slightly hazardous to humans are effective. Such types of fumigants are in greater demand, especially among unlicensed persons. Unlicensed is used here to mean persons without professional training on fumigant use.

Such pesticides contain several active ingredients that won’t be elaborated on here.

You’d find several of these in stores. If you have no clue of what to look out for, the names Vapona, DDVP or NUVAN PROSTRIPS will be of great help. It doesn’t matter your level of education as long as you can read. Such products have been made available to provide alternative methods to combat pest issues. You only need to follow all the instructions provided.

In addition to this are so many online materials. These are in the forms of video demonstrations or articles on how to use them. Such may warrant the use of protective gear too.

  • Unlikely to Present Acute Hazard

Fumigants under this category are the safest to use. These pose little or no health risks and therefore best for unlicensed use. However, the question is if your pest problems can be effectively tackled.

Well, this depends on use. This class of fumigants, like the others, works best on how well they are applied. Therefore a lot depends on individual use and whether instructions are properly followed.

Types of Fumigants

  • Dichloronitroethane

This is a fumigation chemical that has proven quite effective in combating pest infestations.

While very efficient in eliminating pests, you should be wary of its corrosive nature especially metals in moist conditions. This fumigation chemical is used for agricultural purposes such as exterminating soil pests as well as those in stored farm produce.

Because it irritates the eyes, you should be careful when applying it. It is best to wear protective gear to avoid inhalation as well as prolonged exposure to the eye.

  • Propylene Dichloride

Propylene Dichloride is another effective fumigant. It is used for both domestic and commercial purposes. To be effective against insect pests, its directions for use must be strictly adhered to. When applying this fumigant, wearing protective gear is highly recommended.

However, you may want to obtain expert advice in determining which fumigant best suits your pest needs.

  • Carbon Disulphide

This fumigant is perfect for use due to our hot tropical climate which supports the volatilization of the chemicals.

Although it is highly effective in eliminating insect pests, it has its hazards as well. Explosions can occur. Especially during application. There’s also the likelihood of burning.

When applying this fumigation chemical, you should avoid inhaling the fumes by wearing protective equipment.

Prolonged exposure to this fumigant can lead to unconsciousness and eventually death. Due to its highly flammable nature, it is mixed with non-flammable mixtures for increased safety. It comes in metal cans or drums which need to be stored in cool well-ventilated spaces or rooms.

Whenever in use, you should avoid leaving it in direct sunlight as heat from the sun could ignite it. This fumigant comes with specific instructions on how it should be used. You should endeavor to follow every instruction regarding its direction for use.

  • Ethylene Oxide

Ethylene oxide exterminates a wide range of insect pests. This fumigant is flammable. Hence the need for a non-flammable carrier.

Like most fumigants, Ethylene Oxide is toxic and can lead to a variety of respiratory diseases, skin, and eye irritation among others. Ethylene oxide is used on insect pests. Such as those in agricultural and food production.

The exact specification(s) for applying this fumigant is written on the label. There are instructions for use that you should not ignore. Applying the right dosage is essential to obtaining desired results.

  • Ethylene Dichloride

Ethylene Dichloride, also known as EDC is yet another fumigant that you can purchase for your pest problems. While eliminating your pest problems it can also be toxic to you as well.

To protect yourself, you can use a respirator when applying it. It acts fast on all forms of insect pests with remarkable results obtained in a short time.

  • Ethylene Dibromide

Ethylene dibromide is a fumigant you will find very useful in exterminating all forms of insect pests. Whether your pest problems are residential, commercial, or agricultural, this fumigant has you covered.

However, this poses its risks; its toxicity. This fumigant causes skin irritations. Prolonged exposure can damage vital body organs.  Such organs include the liver and kidney among others.

Standard safety measures are necessary. These consist of putting on protective clothing and chemical masks to guard against inhalation.

  • Hydrogen Cyanide

This fumigant is among the most toxic fumigants you can find. Although very effective, there has been a gradual decline in its use and elsewhere. It is soluble in water and turns to acid. As a result, it is irritating to the skin. It acts fast on insect pests by paralyzing them before killing them.

Before using this fumigation chemical, you should take the time to read through the instructions carefully.

It is widely used against a variety of pests. You also need the right protective gear due to its toxicity.

  • What Types of Pests Are These Active On?

This is an often raised question. However, we all know that their effects are far-reaching. Most fumigants mentioned here will exterminate a variety of pests. Not only that, but some of these are also highly toxic to humans and pests. This calls for extreme caution when using them.

The word “pests” is quite broad. These include insects, reptiles as well as mammals. As such, not every pest situation will require fumigation. Nonetheless, those which do are also many. Fumigants will act on most insect pests. But there are times when certain fumigants will perform better on specific pests than others.

Knowing what types of fumigants to apply will depend on what these are designed for. Most fumigants will have a list of pests they are highly effective on. You’d have to find out yourself by reading such information.

  • Fumigation Safety Tips

Safety is the central focus of this article. It all boils down to avoiding all forms of exposure to such chemicals and gases. Preparation is crucial. All necessary safety measures should be decided upon way ahead of time. This includes getting a place to stay for the duration of time required.

All forms of dental products, food, or medications should either be removed or stored safely. This includes drinks with broken seals as well as pet foods. Such foods should be tightly sealed in Nylofume bags.

Proper ventilation upon return is very necessary. This is to allow for the proper dissipation of lingering fumes. The use of fans in addition to opening all doors and windows is recommended.

You should also be on the lookout for reactions. Such reactions may be due to exposure to fumigants. You may experience dizziness, coughs, headaches, nausea as well as fatigue. Health risks should be promptly addressed.

  • Consult An Expert On The Best Fumigation Chemical To Use

It is not enough to walk into any chemical store to purchase a fumigant of your choice. Being skilled in handling is the only exception. Otherwise, you should seek the services of an expert. Several companies employ highly professional methods to fumigate.

These companies provide comprehensive pest extermination services. This is achieved using the best fumigation chemicals to eliminate the problem. Such companies have technicians who visit your property to ascertain the level of infestation.

After assessing the level of infestation, the best approach is discussed and applied.

Hiring experienced hands for your fumigation job affords you greater peace of mind and eliminates the risks that may result from improper use of the fumigation chemicals. You will be educated on fumigant precautions and how long you should wait after fumigation for safety reasons.

Final Thoughts

Having considered the different types of fumigation methods and fumigants, you can get a clearer picture of the options available to you. The different fumigation scenarios fit different circumstances. So, for instance, gas fumigation won’t be effective for agriculture for the sole reason that fumigants need to be applied outdoors.

Gas fumigation is done best in enclosed environments. Hence the need to find a more suitable method and chemical for the pest problem you’re faced with.

Has this been helpful? We hope it has.

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