Why Shipping Containers Need to Be Fumigated

Posted on Aug 13 2014 - 8:31am by Editorial Staff

Shipping Container

There are thousands of shipping containers that are transported around the world daily, each containing items of some sort. Some though, though, can be a breeding ground of insects and pests, making fumigation a necessity.

Say, for example, if you’ve been looking for container hire in Sydney, chances are you need a shipping container to ship food products, agricultural products, furniture, raw materials—the list is pretty endless. However, these are some of the products that are a hotbed for rodents and insects.

Shipping Container Fumigation – Is it Necessary?

Shipping containers are an extremely high risk for attracting insects and rodents. The goods being shipped in the containers can pick up pests from one part of the world and bring them across to another.

That’s why fumigation is absolutely necessary to get rid of pests before the container reaches its final destination. By ridding the units of pests and their eggs, you can prevent infestation once the container reaches its destination.

One other reason fumigation is important is that it prevents cross border contamination and prevents diseases spreading across continents.

What Kind of Pests Would Infest a Shipping Container?

Any type of pest can invade a container, from moths and mites to beetles and weevils. What’s more, cargo can harbour pests that can pose as a threat to public health, for example, cockroaches. The pests transport bacteria on their body’s surface and become a human health hazard.

Other types of coming shipping container pests include

  • Lesser gran borer – can produce up to 600 eggs and are found in grain from the tropics.
  • Confused flour beetle – these thrive in cakes, flours, and cereals as well as nuts and will continue breeding in warm places.
  • Grain weevil – these settle in grain cargoes and are able to survive in moderate climes.
  • Merchant grain beetle – thrive in shipments of cake, dried fruit, rice and bran as well as oil seeds.
  • Rice weevil – these pests are attracted to shipments of pasta and grain produce, but they don’t last in the colder months.
  • Rust-red grain beetle – these beetles are attracted to shipments of grains, oils, and cereal products and thrive in colder months.
  • Spiders – thrive in cargoes of bananas and other fruits.
  • Foreign grain beetle – these beetles thrive on cereals, cocoa, damp grain, oil seeds and haystacks.
  • Tobacco beetle – found in tobacco, spices, seeds, and cocoa.
  • Rice weevil – attracted to shipments of pastas and grains.
  • Tropical warehouse moth – dried fruits, oil seeds, cocoa, and cereals attract these moths that can produce hundreds of eggs.

Should Shipping Containers Be Fumigated Before Each Trip?

If you’re hiring shipping containers, there may be different requirements for different shipments when it comes to fumigation. Goods that definitely require containers to be fumigated include

  • Non-food items like tobacco, leather and bamboo.
  • Processed foods – herbs, dried fruits and vegetables, dairy produce, tea and cereals.
  • Agricultural products – nuts, pulses, grains, coffee.

How Are Shipping Containers Fumigated?

Proper fumigation requires highly skilled personnel, and specialist training is required. The process includes

  • Releasing phosphine gas in a controlled manner over a period of time in a sealed container to kill off insects and eggs. The gas is held at a specific concentration for a certain time period in order to work effectively.
  • Once fumigation has been completed, the container is then aired and usually a clearance certificate will be issued.

The phosphine works to form an explosive mixture when exposed to air. Although the chemical is odourless, the reaction during fumigation creates a strong smell.

Exposure to the chemical can cause respiratory and skin diseases, which is why fumigation is a skill best carried out my trained individuals using the right equipment and safety gear.

Fumigation of your container hire should be done to protect your cargo. However, it should be executed by trained personnel.

About the Author
Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at I2Mag is a team of subject experts led by Karan Chopra.