Title: Fumigation with Toxic Gases


Fumigation of infested cultural materials with toxic chemicals and gases should be used only in extraordinary circumstances (e.g. collection items of massive size or large-scale or building wide infestations).  This type of treatment should only be considered after other alternatives have been ruled out. The IPM-WG and Museumpests.net does not advocate the use of fumigants. This brief overview is intended to inform members of the museum, library, and archives communities about fumigants and to clarify frequently misunderstood terminology and concepts. This overview also serves as a cautionary statement, and to direct readers to further resources.

In practice, there are two groups of fumigants which kill as target pests inhale molecules of a toxic gas.

  1. The first group is considered mild fumigants, that is, they have poor penetrating properties and low to moderate toxicity.  This group, which can be purchased and used legally by lay (unlicensed) people, includes dichlorvos, paradichlorobenzene, naphthalene, and oil of red cedar.  The availability and legality of use will vary from place to place and does not necessarily mean the treatment is effective, safe or appropriate.
  2. The second group of fumigants is highly toxic and includes methyl bromide, ethylene oxide, sulfuryl fluoride, phosphine, and hydrogen cyanide.  This group cannot be legally used by the general public and must only be used by licensed professional pest management personnel.

If after careful consideration the collecting institution decides to use a fumigant, it is essential to document this treatment. It should be possible to access the history of any one object related to both infestation and eradication.  The IPM policy statements on this site give examples of the ways various cultural heritage institutions carry out documentation.  Click here to access the Procedures templates.  It is recommended that all pest incidents and any treatment such as fumigation should be recorded, ideally in separate documentation (e.g. collection database, object treatment file), and in a note placed in the bag with the object or artifact.

Mild Fumigants

Dichlorvos (DDVP, NUVAN® PROSTRIPS™, Vapona®)

Originally registered by Shell Chemical Corporation in 1948 as a liquid, residual insecticide, Shell formulated this chemical into an impregnated resin strip, known as the No-Pest Strip. This insecticide has a moderate amount of fumigant action.  Sometime after Shell sold this product and the brand name No-Pest StripÔ to another company, it was removed from the marketplace due to misapplications of aerosol total-release bombs by lay people and professionals, and the use of various formulations in food handling and serving situations.  After almost a 20-year review by EPA, it has now been re-registered for use in cultural heritage collections by AMVAC Chemical Corporation as a resin-impregnated pest strip.  It is not registered for use in institutions as a liquid spray or fog. Note that European Union regulations ban the use of Dichlorvos.

The current brand name of the large resin strip is NUVAN® PROSTRIPS


Integrated Pest Management Working Group
Treatment subgroup Created February 2010, Updated February 2012

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