How to Fumigate Pallets

Shipping pallets used in the international trade must be fumigated.
Shipping pallets used in the international trade must be fumigated. (Image: dumpster and pallet image by Lucid_Exposure from

The International Plant Protection Convention, an organization affiliated with the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, in 2002 implemented voluntary requirements for treating wood packing materials used in international trade. The standards, adopted by the United States in 2005, require treatment of any wood structures, including pallets, used in international shipping with either heat or fumigation. Any solid wood used in a pallet is subject to these requirements.

Things You'll Need

  • Air tight chamber
  • Methyl bromide
  • Air quality testing equipment
  • Thermometer

Place the pallets, or the lumber that will be built into pallets, in an area that is as air tight as possible. Commercial fumigators often have tarps they can place over the lumber.

Mix the methyl bromide according to manufacturer’s instructions. Monitor the temperature of materials inside the fumigation chamber and the gas levels during the fumigation process. Depending on the temperature, typical fumigation times can be as long as 24 hours.

Vent the fumigation area to the outside. Confirm the gases have dissipated by taking gas readings before allowing anyone into the fumigation chamber.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fumigation is not necessary if all the lumber used in the pallet is kiln dried. No treatment is necessary if the pallet is used exclusively in the United States. Pallets made of plywood, oriented strand board or corrugated wood are exempt from fumigation requirements.
  • Warmer temperatures mean shorter fumigation times. Insects in warm wood have a higher respiration rate and consume the poisons in the fumigation gases more rapidly.
  • Fumigation may be performed only by a licensed fumigator. This applies to in-house fumigation as well as commercial fumigation companies. In-house fumigation requires proper licensing of the employee or employees conducting the fumigation.
  • Follow all label instructions and regulations. Methyl bromide is the only fumigant allowed by the IPPC standards for the fumigation of wood used in shipping containers and pallets.

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