Phosphine

In consultation with authorisation holders and European partners, the Ctgb is developing measures to prevent phosphine poisoning during transport. Proposals for these measures, such as a ban on the use of phosphine during transport, are now taking shape.

Phosphine gas is used as a fumigate to control insects, for example in grain and other products in silos, containers and warehouses, but also in ships, trains or trucks. The gas is generated at the fumigation site by allowing aluminium or magnesium phosphide (a solid) to come into contact with air and moisture.

Phosphine gas is highly toxic and in recent years there have been accidents and near accidents with shipboard personnel who came into contact with phosphine residues from fumigated cargoes. The government has appointed a working group to propose measures to reduce the risk of such accidents. The Ctgb is involved in this working group and has developed proposals for measures regarding the authorisations of aluminium and magnesium phosphide.

This concerns plant protection products and biocidal products for which the assessment has been harmonised at the European level. More specifically, the Ctgb, in consultation with authorisation holders and European partners, is developing a set of measures to prevent phosphine poisoning during transport.

These include a ban on the use of phosphine gas during transport and an obligation to remove residues of phosphide products (a process known as degassing) from shipments before they are transferred.

Such measures only make sense if they are implemented Europe-wide.

Ocean shipping will be exempted from these measures because safety rules for this sector must be implemented worldwide. Furthermore, an effective system is currently operational at seaports for identifying and degassing fumigated cargoes before they are transshipped.