What is methyl bromide used for?
Methyl bromide is a fumigant used to control quarantine pests.
In New Zealand, it's mostly used to treat logs and timber for export. It's also used in smaller amounts to treat other export products, imported products, and wooden packaging.
Some overseas markets require certain export products to be treated with methyl bromide. For others, it may be one treatment option specified. Check the Importing Countries Phytosanitary Requirements (ICPRs) to see what you need to do for your market and product.
There are 2 sorts of ICPRs:
- If you're exporting plants or plant products, check the plant and plant product ICPRs.
- If you're exporting timber, logs, other wood products, or using wooden packaging, check the forestry products ICPRs.
Importing Countries Phytosanitary Requirements
New rules for using methyl bromide
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) on 11 August 2021 announced new rules for using methyl bromide in New Zealand. The rules are to protect people and the environment against methyl bromide's harmful effects.
Some new rules are already in place and others will be brought in during the next few years.
The new rules include:
- the need for larger buffer zones
- a ban on using methyl bromide in ships' holds from 1 January 2023
- new recapture targets to avoid methyl bromide being released into the air.
The EPA has more information about the new rules and when they come into effect.
Reassessment of methyl bromide – EPA
Alternative to methyl bromide approved
In April 2022, the EPA approved an application for the use of ethanedinitrile (EDN) as an alternative treatment for logs and timber.
There are WorkSafe rules in place to protect workers using EDN.
WorkSafe document about using EDN [PDF, 148 KB]
EDN is approved for use only to treat timber and logs for export. It can't be used for imported commodities. Before EDN can be imported into or used in New Zealand, MPI needs to approve treatment providers.
The EPA has put controls in place for the use of EDN. These include only allowing it to be used:
- to fumigate logs and timber
- by professionals in commercial settings
- in specific wind conditions
- under tarpaulins or in shipping containers.
There are also maximum application rates and exposure limits.
The benefits of EDN include that it:
- is ozone-friendly
- rapidly decomposes after use
- has fewer risks than methyl bromide to human health and the environment.
Find out more about the decision to approve EDN – EPA
Overseas markets that accept EDN
We're negotiating with overseas markets for them to accept EDN as an alternative to methyl bromide. There are currently 2 markets accepting EDN.
Malaysia accepts EDN but calls it Cyanogen.
Forest Products Export Standards - Phytosanitary Requirements of Malaysia
Australia accepts EDN during the flight season of the burnt pine longhorn beetle, called the Arhopalus ferus flight season.
Find out about the Arhopalus ferus flight season
Forest Products Export Standards – Phytosanitary Requirements of Australia