Export Wood Packaging
Inspection service

Your Subtitle text

Methyl Bromide is the ONLY fumigant permitted under the ISPM 15 standards for wood packaging materials used in exporting commodities (see EPA "What is Methyl Bromide?" for background on the chemical).  The administration of the ISPM 15 standard related to the chemical gas Methyl Bromide in the wood packaging industry is under the umbrella of the MOU the American Lumber Standard Committee has in place with the USDA/APHIS.  A variety of methods are utilized to fumigate solid wood packing materials in preparation for exportation to other countries.  One method is to load containers with the wood packaging material (pallets, boxes, crates, etc.) and administer the gas for a specified period of time while another way is to "tarp" the WPM and fumigate.  Other methods have been to fumigate individual pieces of solid wood and keep them in a secure area to prevent re-infestation until needed to create the packaging.  A Fumiscope is used by the fumigating company's personnel to determine the concentration levels (see below a description of the Fumiscope).  For a brief in depth review of Methyl Bromide use in pest control, visit a web page associated with the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (a part of the University of Hawaii).

It should be noted that it has been determined that Methyl Bromide is an ozone depleting substance.  With that being said, an international effort is being made to phase out the use of Methyl Bromide (see MBAO.org). BUT! the EPA has provided an exemption for the use of MB in the fumigation of wood packaging materials in preparation for exportation to other ISPM 15 compliant countries (EPA exemption link)

Important Acronyms / Glossary:

MB- Methyl Bromide. A chemical that is applied as an odorless and colorless toxic gas to sterilize solid wood packaging material.  The manufacture of Methyl Bromide is taken up by chemical companies around the globe (See US manufacturer Chemtura / Indian manufacturer IPPL).

ISPM 15- This is the download page for the International standard of Phytosanitary Measures no. 15 available in PDF format- click here to go to the download site.

EPA- Environmental Protection Agency. As stated on the official Website 'The mission of EPA is to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment -- air, water and land'.

QPS- Quarantine / pre-shipment- A term that describes practices for export/import preparation of commodities with the focus on pest control. An example of pre-shipment practices is the fumigation of wood packaging material prior to their use for exporting commodities.  

FAO-  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations- It's primary function is to lead international efforts to defeat hunger.  It offers a source of detailed information related to the use of Methyl Bromide in it's role as a sanitary measure for a variety of commodities see a video here of: 1)- the preparation of the MB tank  2)- the preparation of the container for the fumigation procedure taking place for an overseas container). There are several other videos you can download and view of the various fumigation steps.  See the FAO's directory on fumigants for pest control- click here to visit the web page. 

COUNTRIES- requiring ISPM 15- Here find a simple drop down list provided by the USDA/APHIS Website.

The efficacy of the application of Methyl Bromide for solid wood packaging is contingent on several factors. There is a matrix developed for fumigators that dictates the concentration and duration of exposure of the fumigant dependent on the temperature of the wood (See ISPM No.15-Annex 1 pages 11-12).  In simple terms, the colder the wood is, the more MB is needed and for a longer time.  The IPPC authorizes the use of a stamp to be applied to wood packaging to indicate for ISPM 15 complaint countries that the package has been properly treated. Repaired wood packaging material, such as replacing a broken board on a pallet, installing new framing on a box or crate would necessitate re-treatment of the whole packaging and the obliteration of the previous IPPC mark.

The Montreal Protocol- An initiative taken up by the United Nations to reduce the ozone depleting substances used on an international level. Methyl Bromide is one of the substances addressed by this initiative (See the protocol handbook here). 
Fumiscope- This is a measuring device used to detect levels of gases in a certain environment.  In reference to the Methyl Bromide application for export wood packaging materials, a Fumiscope is essential to the fumigator.  Without it, there is no way to determine if the gas level concentration is being met.  Fumiscopes need to be re-calibrated from time to time to insure it's measuring accuracy.  A picture and brief description of a Fumiscope can be found here at Key Chemical and Equipment co.'s Website (Export Wood provides this link for informational purposes only- no endorsement of the company nor it's products are being made here).  Please note:  A chemical known as
Vikane (Sulfuryl Fluoride) is also used in pest control and can be measured using the Fumiscope BUT is not approved for use in ISPM 15 standard WPM preparation.