Xaver Baur, Fang Yu, Bernd Poschadel, Wim Veldman, Tosca Knol-de Vos: He...

Start2006Xaver Baur, Fang Yu, Bernd ...

Containers are increasingly used for the worldwide transport of all kinds of goods. Consistent with national and international regulations on pest controls, a growing proportion of these containers undergoes fumigation. Frequently, the prescribed labelling is missing. According to literature, this situation may lead to accidents and represents a significant health risk to dock workers, inspectors and custom workers. Furthermore, warehouse workers and even consumers may come in contact with these toxic fumigants. Presented measurement data underline this health risks due to bromomethane but also due to other fumigants and, surprisingly, due to further noxious gases. So far, no routine method for sensitive and specific measurements on the spot has been available. The consequences of container fumigation should always be carefully weighed up, and alternatives to pesticides, e.g. heat treatment or atmospheres with reduced oxygen and for high CO2 concentrations should be considered. In addition, stringent international controls as well as sanctions if IMO’s “Recommendations on the safe use of pesticides in ships” are disregarded are required.

Institute of Occupational Medicine, Hamburg Port Health Center,
University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany

Inspectorate of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planing and the Environment
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Rijksinstitut voor Volksgezondheit en Milieu, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

Address for correspondence:
Xaver Baur, MD
Ordinariat und Zentralinstitut für Arbeitsmedizin, Universität Hamburg
Seewartenstrasse 10
D-20459 Hamburg
Tel.: +49 40 428 894 500
FAX: +49 40 428 894 514
Email: baur@uke.uni-hamburg.de