EPA releases fumigation safety measures

July 10, 2008 at 10:25 PM

WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) -- New safety measures will protect workers and bystanders against inadvertent exposure to soil fumigants, a U.S. regulatory agency said Thursday.

Workers or bystanders exposed to fumigants such as methyl bromide, chloropicrin, dazomet, metam sodium and metam potassium may experience eye or respiratory irritation, or more severe and irreversible injuries, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

The new safety measures require users to complete written, site-specific fumigant management plans before fumigating; create buffer zones around treated fields; and inform bystanders and field workers in writing about the location and timing of fumigations and the buffer zones, the EPA said.

Users must also provide first-responder emergency workers with fumigant-specific safety information and training and conduct outreach programs to educate members of the general community about fumigants.

Finally, fumigant registrants must adopt more stringent worker-protection measures and develop training for fumigation handlers and workers.

All soil-fumigant products will now be classified as restricted-use pesticides in an effort to limit their use to specially trained individuals.

Fumigation is a pest-control method that completely fills an area with gaseous pesticides to suffocate or poison the pests within the area.

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