Methyl Bromide: Effective Pest Management Tool and Environmental Threat


  • W. B. Thomas


Methyl bromide is used extensively on a global basis as a pesticide against nematodes, weeds, insects, fungi, bacteria, and rodents. As a soil fumigant, it is used in significant quantities in the production of strawberry and tomato, as well as other agriculture commodities. Grain, fresh fruit, forestry products, and other materials are fumigated with methyl bromide to control pest infestations during transport and storage. Structures also are treated with this chemical to control wood-destroying insects and rodents. However, methyl bromide has been identified as a significant ozone-depleting substance, resulting in regulatory actions being taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the United Nations Environment Program (Montreal Protocol). The science linking methyl bromide to ozone depletion is strong and was reinforced by the 1994 UNEP Montreal Protocol Science Assessment on Ozone Depletion, which states, "Methyl bromide continues to be viewed as a significant ozone-depleting compound." Identifying efficacious and viable alternatives in the near term is critical. Key words: environment, fumigant, methyl bromide, nematicide, ozone depletion, pest management, policy.