Fumigants are pesticides that form gases or vapors toxic to plants, insects, and microorganisms. Some active ingredients are formulated, packaged, and released as gases; others are liquids when packaged under high pressure and change to gases when they are released. Other active ingredients are volatile liquids when enclosed in an ordinary container and therefore are not formulated under pressure. Others are solids that release gases when applied under conditions of high humidity or in the presence of water vapor. Fumigants are used for structural pest control, in food and grain storage facilities, and in regulatory pest control at ports of entry and at state and national borders. In agricultural pest control, fumigants are used in soil, greenhouses, granaries, and grain bins.

Advantages of fumigants:

  • Toxic to a wide range of pests
  • Can penetrate cracks, crevices, wood, and tightly packed areas such as soil or stored grains
  • Single treatment usually kills most pests in treated area

Disadvantages of fumigants:

  • The target site must be enclosed or covered to prevent the gas from escaping
  • Nonspecific in that they are usually highly toxic to humans and all other living organisms
  • Require the use of specialized protective equipment, including respirators specifically approved for use with fumigants
  • Can require the use of specialized application equipment
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