In a study conducted several years ago, 90 per cent of businesses surveyed reported dealing with at least one pest infestation in the preceding five-year period.
Fumigation has become an integral process in industries across the UK and around the world. Not only does it maintain the integrity of products, but it also ensures the safety of shipments globally.
However, while fumigation is essential for industries from agriculture to logistics, there will always be concerns about human safety in the aftermath of the process.
In this article, we’ll look at fumigation’s suitability for different industries and identify measures businesses can take to protect their employees.
What is fumigation?
Fumigation is defined as the application of toxic gases, often referred to as fumigants, in an airtight space to kill anything in an enclosed space with a respiratory system.
The process is highly efficient and effective in eradicating a wide range of pests and contaminants that can compromise the safety and quality of products.
Fumigation works by saturating the space and penetrating deep into the materials and structures where pests may hide to ensure a thorough extermination.
Our team regularly provides fumigation treatments for operations of all sizes in food processing, agriculture, and logistics industries.
Each of these sectors demands tailored pest control measures on a regular basis to maintain the quality of their products during storage, transport and wider distribution.
Which industries are suited for fumigation?
Our team assists customers operating in several industries across the UK.
However, there are three key sectors where these treatments are particularly crucial in ensuring regulatory compliance and optimal operational conditions.
Naturally, the food industry is susceptible to unwanted pest species which, if left untreated, risk contaminating the food products.
As a result, fumigation plays a critical role in keeping warehouses, distribution centres, and processing facilities free from these species.
The fumigation process helps to prevent the spread of disease and ensures the safety of the food is not compromised.
Agriculture is another key industry that significantly suffers from unwanted pest species, which is why fumigation is employed to safeguard crops and stored grains.
Often, fumigation treatments are used as a preventative measure to ensure the harvest weight and quality are not affected. This ensures that farmers see higher yields and economic stability throughout the year.
Logistics operations that use shipping containers and storage facilities are hot spots for pests due to the regular movement of goods.
Fumigation has become essential for preventing the spread of pests around the globe and securing the supply chain.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) is a typical invasive species that fumigation targets to prevent the spread of this pest into countries such as Australia and New Zealand, which have strict import laws.
How long after fumigation is it safe for humans?
One of the primaries concerns many businesses we speak to have been the safety of staff, individuals on their site, and the wider public after coming into contact with a fumigated area.
The period of time it takes for a space to be considered safe for people to return depends on a variety of factors, including the type of fumigant gas used, the concentration and the aeration process which we explore here.
All fumigant gases have different properties, which means some will dissipate quicker than others. For example, phosphine-based fumigant gases that our team regularly use tend to dissipate faster than the likes of methyl bromide.
That being said, our team will always use the most appropriate fumigant to suit the needs and requirements of your space.
Another factor to consider is the concentration of the fumigation and the length of time the space is exposed. High fumigant concentrations will require a more extended aeration period to ensure the air returns to safe levels.
The aeration process is the most important part of ensuring the safety of humans following the fumigation treatment.
Ventilation of the treated area ensures that all residual fumigants are removed, which is crucial for safety. The time taken to aerate the space entirely depends on factors such as the temperature, ventilation systems and the type of fumigant applied.
Proper aeration is key to reducing the risk of individuals being exposed to harmful chemicals, and our head fumigator will always ensure clients are fully aware of when it is safe to return, as they will be provided with a clearance certificate.
How to protect your employees if your business needs fumigation
We understand the safety of everyone on site is the number one priority for any business, which is why we have detailed some of the key measures you can take to protect your employees here.
Communication is vital to ensuring the safety of your employees. You should inform your on-site staff about the scheduled fumigation treatment in advance and be clear about the safety precautions they should take.
To minimise the risks of fumigation, you should educate employees about the necessary safety protocols. A training session to make them aware of the emergency procedures and dangers of re-entering the site before it is safe is the best way to protect employees.
As part of protecting your employees, you may want to consider temporarily relocating your team to another space during the period of fumigation and aeration. This will significantly reduce the risk of exposure and ensure they remain safe whilst the treatment is carried out.
Get in touch with our team today.
We hope this article has helped you understand how long after fumigation it is safe for humans and the steps your business can take to protect individuals on your site. If you are interested in learning more about our fumigation treatments, feel free to visit our fumigation services page.
We are happy to answer any questions regarding the length of time it takes to action a procedure and offer a free consultancy process to discuss the pest problems.