Shipping Container Fumigation

Thousands of containers are shipped daily from all over the globe to port-towns and cities in the UK, and, as some cargoes are a breeding ground for pests and insects, shipping container fumigation is vital.

Felixstowe alone is the UK’s busiest container port and handles, on average, 3.4 million 20 ft containers a year. In fact, two fifths of Britain’s container trade passes through the port of Felixstowe, making pest control a necessity.

Agricultural and food products, leather goods, wood products such as furniture, raw materials and other goods are some of the cargoes imported into the UK that are a hotbed for insects and rodents.

With these and other goods imported into the UK via Felixstowe and other ports in the area, such as Harwich, Tilbury, Ipswich and London Gateway, it is important to use the services of a professional pest control company to rid these cargoes of rodents, insects and their eggs and prevent infestation.

Essex and Suffolk Pest Solutions are available for shipping container fumigation services at Felixstowe, Harwich, Tilbury, Ipswich and London Gateway. Just click on the link below to find out how we can help.

Shipping Container Fumigation  – Click here to find out more about our competitive commercial pest control services for container shipments at ports in Suffolk, Essex or London.

Why is Shipping Container Fumigation Necessary?

Shipping containers are a high risk for attracting rodents and insects because the goods stored in the containers can inadvertently pick up pests from other parts of the world and bring them into the UK.

Shipping container fumigation is vital to rid cargo of pests and their off-spring before the container reaches its final destination. Ridding cargoes of insects and their eggs prevents infestation when the produce reaches its arrival point, such as a processing factory, warehouse, or shop.

Another reason why shipping container fumigation is necessary is that it stops cross border contamination of pests and prevents the spread of disease and other contaminants.

What Sort of Pests Infest Shipping Containers?

Almost any type of insect can infest a shipping container. These include all Stored Product Insects (SPI) such as beetles, moths, mites and weevils.

Cargo can also harbour pests that cause a threat to public health such as cockroaches. These can transport germs and harmful bacteria on the surface of their body that are a health hazard to humans.

Other common pests that breed in shipping containers include:

Confused Flour Beetle – The species thrives in cargos of oil seeds, carobs, cake, flour, cereals and nuts and will keep breeding in warm places such as bakeries and mills. They can produce nearly 1,000 eggs.

Lesser Grain Borer – Breeds in grain from the tropics but needs heat to survive. It produces up to 600 eggs.

Merchant Grain Beetle – Thrives in cargos of rice, bran, cake, dried fruit and oil seeds and can produce hundreds of eggs. They can’t survive in cold, wintery conditions.

Rust-Red Grain Beetle – Attracted to cargos of cereal products, oil seeds, broken grain and oil cake. Lives through the winter.

Spiders – Can be found in shipments of bananas.

The Foreign Grain Beetle – Feeds on damp grain, cereal products, cocoa, haystacks and oil seeds but doesn’t like cold conditions.

The Granary or Grain Weevil – These pests can settle in grain cargoes and survive in moderate temperature. They can produce a maximum of 350 eggs.

The Rice Weevil – The Rice Weevil is attracted to cargoes of grain and pasta products and can produce a maximum of 400 eggs. They can’t last the winter without heat.

Tobacco Beetle – Breeds in seed, spices, cocoa, tobacco and oilcakes and can produce more than 100 eggs.

Tropical Warehouse Moth and Indian Meal Moth – Both types of moth can be found in cargoes of cereals, dried fruit, oil seeds, oilcake and cocoa beans and can survive the winter. They produce hundreds of eggs.

Do Containers Need to Be Fumigated Before Every Journey?

There are various trade agreement requirements for shipping container fumigation.

Goods suitable for treatment by phosphine include:

  • Agricultural Products – such as grains, nuts, pulses, oil seeds, cocoa beans and coffee beans.
  • Processed Foods – such as dried fruits, herbs, dried vegetables, cereals, dairy products, tea
  • Non-Food Items – such as bamboo/rattan, tobacco, cotton, plant seeds and leather products.

How is Shipping Container Fumigation Done?

Fumigation is a highly skilled job which requires specialist training and formal certification as the gases are highly toxic and flammable.

The process of fumigation is as follows:

  • The release of phosphine gas in a controlled way from a solid form of aluminium phosphide. This is done over a period of time in a sealed area (eg a shipping container) to kill insects. The gas is held at a certain concentration for a specific time period to kill the relevant insects.
  • Once the treatment is complete, the container is aired and a clearance certificate is issued.

Phosphine has the following properties:

  • It forms an explosive mixture when exposed to air.
  • It is odourless but the chemical reaction during the fumigation process creates a fishy or garlicky smell.
  • It is dangerous to humans but the same exposure can take days to kill insects.
  • It can rust metals including gold, silver, copper and their alloys.
  • It can also damage electrical equipment including computers and switches.

There are various symptoms of exposure to phosphine which is why fumigation can only be done by qualified personnel.

Low level Exposure: Symptoms include a cough, a feeling of tightness of the chest, difficulty breathing, headache, feeling weak or faint.

High Level Exposure: Symptoms include sickness and vomiting, diarrhoea, fits, coma, fluid collecting in the lungs (pulmonary oedema).

Essex and Suffolk Pest Solutions

For shipping container fumigation in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Harwich, Tilbury and London, call in the experts at Essex and Suffolk Pest Solutions.

Essex and Suffolk Pest Solutions – Contact us today to find out about our competitively priced commercial pest control contracts.

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