Methyl bromide

Methyl bromide, an ozone depleting substance, was used extensively in the past as a fumigant for controlling a wide range of pests and pathogens present in soils (fungi, bacteria and soil-borne viruses), as well as in post-harvest storage of commodities, in buildings or structures (insects, mites, nematodes and rodents). Since alternatives were available for such applications, they were classified under the Protocol as “controlled uses.” The Multilateral Fund supported developing countries to adopt new fumigants, technologies and practices, and by 1 January 2015 the global phase out of methyl bromide for controlled uses was completed – one of the great success stories of the Montreal Protocol.

The Protocol has a provision for “Critical Uses,” which applies to specific cases where a sector or region does not have technically or economically viable alternatives to methyl bromide and therefore its replacement is more difficult. Exemptions are granted annually by the Parties under this provision on a case-to-case country basis, and based on recommendations made by the Protocol’s Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee. In addition, methyl bromide continues to be used as phytosanitary treatment to control pests and pathogens of quarantine importance on various traded goods, including perishable commodities such as food, fresh fruit and vegetables and durable commodities such as grain and pulses, wood products, cotton and other materials. Such goods and their packaging can carry unwanted, exotic pests or pathogens, which can be introduced or spread into a given country or territory, often with serious impacts on the environment, the country’s economy and even human health. To minimise these risks, governments implement national and international phytosanitary treatment standards. Very often, the treatment of choice is methyl bromide fumigation. These treatments are known as “Quarantine and Pre-shipment” (QPS) uses of methyl bromide, which are usually done before a country exports the traded goods or upon their arrival in the importing country. QPS use of methyl bromide is not controlled under the Montreal Protocol, however there are annual data reporting requirements. Alternatives to many QPS applications exist and many present health, environment and cost benefits as compared to methyl bromide.

OZONACTION'S ROLE

OzonAction helps developing countries with these residual issues related to methyl bromide, i.e. understanding QPS and critical use exemptions, data reporting, encouraging establishment of national methyl bromide tracking systems and associated policies, and promoting adoption of QPS alternatives. This support is provided through publications and fact sheets produced by the Information Clearinghouse, discussions during the Regional Network meetings, and CAP assistance to help individual countries upon request.

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RELATED PUBLICATIONS:

Minimising Quarantine and Pre-shipment (QPS) Uses of Methyl Bromide: Tools for Controlling, Monitoring and Reporting Booklet [July 2016]
This UNEP OzonAction publication is intended to help National Ozone Units understand why the close supervision of Methyl Bromide (MB) use in QPS applications is important for their countries continued compliance with the Montreal Protocol. It provides information about how to correctly identify MB QPS uses, data management, reporting, stakeholder engagements, and how to control and prevent potential illegal trade of this ODS.

QPS uses of Methyl Bromide and their alternatives Fact Sheet [July 2015]
At the 1992 Meeting of the Parties in Copenhagen, methyl bromide (MB) was included as a controlled substance Ozone Depleting Substance, (ODS). Article 2H of the Protocol specifically excluded Quarantine and Pre-shipment (QPS) uses from control measures as it was considered that there were no alternatives to MB for the diverse range of treatments carried out for QPS.

Tracking Methyl Bromide Consumption for QPS Fact Sheet [July 2015]
Efficient tracking of methyl bromide (MB) use requires close monitoring and a full understanding of both controlled and exempted uses. The IPPC has developed a list of articles typically fumigated with MB for quarantine and pre-shipment (QPS) purposes, which facilitates collection and reporting of MB usage data. Modifications may be made in accordance to each Party’s circumstances and may vary when the intended use of for quarantine or for pre-shipment. There are many examples of successful tracking and control systems around the world.

Phasing out Methyl Bromide in Developing Countries: A Success Story and its Challenges Booklet [February 2014]
This booklet addresses the efforts undertaken to phase-out Methyl Bromide in developing countries, the lessons learned and what is pending to reach final phase-out. It further analyses factors that may impact or put at risk the continuity of the phase-out and possible ways to mitigate them. It aims to promote the south-south and north-south-south cooperation, facilitate information exchange on advanced technologies for materials, varieties, rootstocks, etc. and raise awareness on risk of reversibility of MB uses and encourage policy to avoid it happening.