The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has announced a ban on methyl bromide as a pest control fumigant.
The agency disclosed this from a statement published on her website on February 20, 2019, signed by Prof. Moji Adeyeye, Director General of NAFDAC. According to the DG, the fumigant is toxic and dangerous to human health.
Methyl bromide is colourless, odourless, noncorrosive and non-flammable, highly toxic to a broad spectrum of insects from egg to the adult stage. It was primarily used as a fumigant in stored product pest management.
Methyl bromide is a Class I Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS). It depletes the Ozone layer due to release of bromine atom upon the break down of the molecule. Methyl Bromide is a scheduled chemical under the Montreal Protocol for Substances that Depletes the Ozone Layer and was placed on a Phase-out Procedure from 2001. Nigeria effected the phase out of Methyl Bromide by January 2015 and since then the product has not been permitted for importation into the country.
According to the statement, Methyl Bromide is an extremely toxic vapour. In humans, Methyl Bromide is readily absorbed through the lungs. Most problems occur as a result of inhalation. Methyl Bromide is a dangerous cumulative poison. First symptoms often are due to damage to the nervous system, and may be delayed from 48 hours to as long as several months after exposure. This delay, combined with methyl bromide’s lack of odour, means that the victim may not realize that exposure is occurring until much time has passed.
Adeyeye said that some individuals have been illegally importing Methyl Bromide for use as pesticide in Nigeria.
She added that the agency is currently carrying out surveillance to identifying such illegal importers and sanction them in accordance to the extant laws.
The agency advised farmers, exporters of Agricultural produce and Agro input dealers to desist from using Methyl Bromide as a pesticide while also urging them to contact the closest NAFDAC office for safer alternatives.