It is vital to prevent the spread of unwanted species and diseases to ensure the safety and quality of products. For that reason, fumigation is essential for commercial operators worldwide, including those in the food industry, logistics and agriculture. In this article, we’ll explain the fumigation process and how long a fumigation procedure should take.

What is fumigation?

Fumigation is a process that involves the use of gaseous chemicals or fumigants to eliminate unwanted bugs and other insect pests with a respiratory system. The gas is released into an enclosed space like a warehouse, food storage facility or shipping container, where it is held until all species and contaminants inside are eradicated.  Unlike pest control at residential addresses, commercial fumigation is focused on preserving the quality and integrity of products and ensuring compliance with strict international import regulations.

Why might you need fumigation?

There are many sectors where fumigation is essential to keep bugs, insects and other unwelcome species at bay.


The agriculture industry relies on fumigation to protect crops and stored grains from pests and mould. Fumigation ensures that all agricultural products are protected and consumer-safe during storage and transport.

Food processing

Whether it is food processing plants or food storage facilities, the food industry is another key sector that often requires fumigation to eliminate insects, bugs and pathogens that can contaminate food products.  Actioning fumigation procedures will help to maintain the quality of the food, extend its shelf life and, most importantly, meet regulatory requirements both in the UK and beyond.


Fumigation is an essential part of the world of logistics, particularly when it comes to international imports and exports. Fumigation treatments help to prevent the global spread of invasive, non-native species and diseases.  The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is a key example of the type of bug that, if left unchecked, can wreak havoc and run up expensive damages. This species is so prevalent that both Australia and New Zealand have a joint ‘Offshore BMSB Treatment Providers Scheme’ in place, and Urban Hawks is proud to be an approved treatment provider listed on their respective websites.  Shipments and cargo will only be safely accepted into these countries if certification can be provided to ensure goods have been fumigated and made gas-safe by one of the approved providers. Fumigation is the only guaranteed way to safeguard the integrity of cargo and ensure that containers comply with international regulations.  Many sectors require regular fumigation treatments carried out by licensed professional fumigation specialists.  If left untreated, these bugs, insects, and other pest species will continue to breed, causing harm to stored products, damaging structures and posing a threat to business operations.

How long does fumigation take?

The duration of fumigation treatments depends on a number of factors, including the size of the area that needs fumigating, the type of species or contaminants involved, and the fumigant used. For smaller warehouses housing food products, fumigation treatments typically take between 24 and 48 hours, while the same assignment at larger processing plants may require two to four days, depending on the complexity of the process. In agricultural settings, grain storage facilities can usually be fumigated within 24 to 48 hours, while larger grain silos can take up to five days, depending on the size and procedure required. Finally, fumigation treatments actioned in port shipping containers generally take less than 24 hours, depending on the cargo and fumigant. These time estimates may vary, but the majority of our treatments have an exposure period of 24 hours, so once the treatment is complete, it won’t be long before normal operations can resume.  If you would like to know more about how long fumigation takes, feel free to get in touch with our team.

How long after fumigation can you return to a building?

Fumigation can be incredibly toxic to humans, which is why the fumigation process should only ever be actioned by a specialist.  The duration of restricted access to your site will vary depending on the fumigant used and how long it takes for the air composition to return to safe levels.  This waiting period is crucial to allow the fumigant to dissipate entirely and the residue to settle, ensuring that the air quality is within safe workplace limits. This period also helps to ensure that any remaining unwanted species or eggs are fully exterminated. Our team will never allow individuals to re-enter the premises prematurely as it can expose them to potential health risks and cause the fumigant to be less effective. Before actioning a procedure, our team will inform you of how long the fumigation treatment will take, including the time taken to safely air the space and issue you with a clearance certificate. Typically, however, a waiting period of 24 to 48 hours is standard.

What are the risks of fumigation?

Health and safety are paramount, and during a fumigation treatment, protecting occupants and our team is of the utmost importance.  We abide by strict protocols, which include completely evacuating the site before the procedure begins.  This means anyone working on-site, or members of the public visiting, must leave the premises and stay away until it is declared safe for entry by our head fumigator.  It is a necessary precaution to prevent any direct contact with the fumigants, which in some cases can lead to respiratory issues, skin irritation, and other health problems.  The other risk involved with fumigation lies in properly handling and storing fumigants. Our team is fully trained to use these fumigants safely, but we also rely on our clients working with us to store any potentially hazardous materials away from the area being treated. Safety during a fumigation treatment is a shared responsibility between our team and the property owner, as strict adherence to safety guidelines is key to a successful fumigation process.

How can Urban Hawks help with fumigation?

With more than 25 years of experience as specialist fumigators, we have successfully catered to the unique needs and requirements of several industries across the North West and throughout the UK.  We understand the business-critical role fumigation plays in preserving the quality of products, safeguarding supply chains and ensuring national and international compliance with regulations.  With extensive experience and knowledge in fumigating in various commercial settings, our team is well versed in the rules, regulations and safety measures specific to each industry. We work diligently with clients to provide tailored fumigation plans which take into account the size of your facility, the fumigants required and the specific species that need to be removed.  We pride ourselves on using only the most advanced equipment, techniques and fumigants to optimise the process to ensure a quick and effective treatment with minimal downtime for your operations.  Above all, our team prioritises the health and safety of everyone on-site and works to ensure that all fumigation safety rules and regulations are abided by when actioning any procedure.  We understand the urgency of managing unwanted species in commercial settings, which is why we offer quick response times from the initial consultation to addressing your fumigation needs. Get in touch with our team today. Fumigation is a vital practice to ensuring the smooth running of many industries around the globe to protect products, prevent the spread of unwanted species and ensure regulation compliance.  As a trusted partner in many industries, we have been proud to provide our expertise and bespoke solutions for over two decades. We hope that this article has helped answer the question of how long fumigation takes, but if you are interested in learning more about our fumigation treatments, feel free to visit our UK Fumigation Services page. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our team by calling us on 0151 345 6854 or send an email to  We are happy to answer any further questions about the length of time it takes to action a procedure, and offer a free consultancy process to discuss your pest problems.