open access

Vol 72, No 3 (2021)
Review article
Published online: 2021-09-29
Submitted: 2021-03-15
Accepted: 2021-07-14
Get Citation

Fumigation on bulk cargo ships: a chemical threat to seafarers

Rune Djurhuus1
DOI: 10.5603/IMH.2021.0039
·
Pubmed: 34604991
·
International Maritime Health 2021;72(3):206-216.
Affiliations
  1. Department of Occupational Medicine, Norwegian Centre for Maritime and Diving Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway

open access

Vol 72, No 3 (2021)
OCCUPATIONAL MEDICINE Review article
Published online: 2021-09-29
Submitted: 2021-03-15
Accepted: 2021-07-14

Abstract

Fumigation is a process that is carried out to prevent deterioration of goods by pests and spread of unwanted organisms for example during long-distance carriage by sea. Several intoxications due to use of pesticides on bulk cargo ships have been indicated, but for some of these incidents the documentation are questionable. The objective of the present study was therefore to examine the extent of the problem by collecting available information of incidents or intoxications due to use of pesticides on bulk cargo ships. Information sources such as PubMed, Google Scholar, Gard (marine insurance company), Marine Accident Investigation Branch, United Kingdom, and Professional Mariner (a magazine) were searched using similar search phrases.
The results indicate that the present practice of fumigation with pesticides of cargo holds on bulk ships represents a serious health risk to both seafarers and port workers. A thorough search for information in both scientific and non-scientific sources revealed a number of intoxications including several fatalities. According to the available documentation, phosphine seems to be used more or less exclusively as fumigant on bulk cargo ships today. Phosphine has a high acute toxicity, and recent findings suggest long-term effects. Several of the reported incidents point to lack of knowledge and neglecting of recommended procedures as key elements in this respect. The problem is likely underestimated due to lack of available documentation of several incidents. Preventive actions should be implemented that focus on documentation of incidents, increase knowledge of pesticide health hazard and implementation of safety procedures that are mandatory to perform when fumigated cargo is to be handled on bulk ships.

Abstract

Fumigation is a process that is carried out to prevent deterioration of goods by pests and spread of unwanted organisms for example during long-distance carriage by sea. Several intoxications due to use of pesticides on bulk cargo ships have been indicated, but for some of these incidents the documentation are questionable. The objective of the present study was therefore to examine the extent of the problem by collecting available information of incidents or intoxications due to use of pesticides on bulk cargo ships. Information sources such as PubMed, Google Scholar, Gard (marine insurance company), Marine Accident Investigation Branch, United Kingdom, and Professional Mariner (a magazine) were searched using similar search phrases.
The results indicate that the present practice of fumigation with pesticides of cargo holds on bulk ships represents a serious health risk to both seafarers and port workers. A thorough search for information in both scientific and non-scientific sources revealed a number of intoxications including several fatalities. According to the available documentation, phosphine seems to be used more or less exclusively as fumigant on bulk cargo ships today. Phosphine has a high acute toxicity, and recent findings suggest long-term effects. Several of the reported incidents point to lack of knowledge and neglecting of recommended procedures as key elements in this respect. The problem is likely underestimated due to lack of available documentation of several incidents. Preventive actions should be implemented that focus on documentation of incidents, increase knowledge of pesticide health hazard and implementation of safety procedures that are mandatory to perform when fumigated cargo is to be handled on bulk ships.

Get Citation

Keywords

intoxication, phosphine, pesticide, seaman, chemical hazard, fumigated cargo

Supp./Additional Files (1)
Cover letter
Download
560KB
About this article
Title

Fumigation on bulk cargo ships: a chemical threat to seafarers

Journal

International Maritime Health

Issue

Vol 72, No 3 (2021)

Article type

Review article

Pages

206-216

Published online

2021-09-29

DOI

10.5603/IMH.2021.0039

Pubmed

34604991

Bibliographic record

International Maritime Health 2021;72(3):206-216.

Keywords

intoxication
phosphine
pesticide
seaman
chemical hazard
fumigated cargo

Authors

Rune Djurhuus

References (49)
  1. Bråtveit M, Djurhuus R, Kirkeleit J, et al. Human health risks and prevention practises during handling of fumigated containers in ports. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). 2018. https://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/handling-fumigated-containers-ports-health-risks-and-prevention-practices/view.
  2. Liston WG, Goré SN. The fumigation of ships with Liston's cyanide fumigator. J Hyg (Lond). 1923; 21(3): 199–219.
  3. Bilderbeck CL. A practical note on the cyanide fumigation of ships. Ind Med Gaz. 1932; 67(4): 200–207.
  4. Alexeeff GV, Kilgore WW. Methyl bromide. Residue Rev. 1983; 88: 101–153.
  5. Brodniewicz A. Poisoning of seamen with methyl bromide due to fumigation of a Polish cargo ship in Haiphong (Vietnam). Arh Hig Rada Toksikol. 1967; 18(1): 19–24.
  6. Boeker M, Vach W, Motschall E. Google Scholar as replacement for systematic literature searches: good relative recall and precision are not enough. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2013; 13: 131.
  7. SMAIC. Very serious marine casuality - MV Nefryt. State Marine Accident Investigation Commission, Warsaw, Poland. 2016. https://pkbwm.gov.pl/wp-content/uploads/images/uchwaly_raporty/raporty/Final_report_Nefryt_WIM_47_15.pdf.
  8. Gummin DD, Mowry JB, Spyker DA, et al. 2018 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 36th Annual Report. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2019; 57(12): 1220–1413.
  9. Van de Sijpe P, Lucas D, Canals ML, et al. Acute occupational phosphine intoxications in the maritime shipping sector: Belgian and French reported cases. Int Marit Health. 2020; 71(3): 151–159.
  10. IARC. Methyl bromide. Monographs on the Identification of Carcinogenic Hazards to Humans. International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organisation, Lyon, France. 1999. http://monographs.iarc.fr.
  11. UNEP. Handbook for the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya. 2019. https://ozone.unep.org/sites/default/files/Handbooks/MP_Handbook_2019.pdf.
  12. MBTOC. Report of the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee. 2018 Assessment. United Nations Environmental Programme, Nairobi, Kenya. 2019. https://ozone.unep.org/sites/default/files/2019-04/MBTOC-assessment-report-2018_1.pdf (2018).
  13. Lyubimov AV, Garry VF. Phoshine. In: Krieger R, ed. Hayes' Handbook of Pesticide Toxicology. 3 ed. Academic Press, London, UK 2010: 2259–2266.
  14. Omae K, Ishizuka C, Nakashima H, et al. Acute and subacute inhalation toxicity of highly purified phosphine (PH3) in male ICR mice. J Occup Health. 1996; 38(1): 36–42.
  15. Newton P, Schroeder R, Sullivan J, et al. Inhalation toxicity of phosphine in the rat: acute, subchronic, and developmental. Inhal Toxicol. 2008; 5(2): 223–239.
  16. Morgan DL, Moorman MP, Elwell MR, et al. Inhalation toxicity of phosphine for Fischer 344 rats and B6C3F1 mice. Inhal Toxicol. 1995; 7(2): 225–238.
  17. Newton PE, Hilaski RJ, Banas DA, et al. A 2-year inhalation study of phosphine in rats. Inhal Toxicol. 1999; 11(8): 693–708.
  18. Wong B, Lewandowski R, Tressler J, et al. The physiology and toxicology of acute inhalation phosphine poisoning in conscious male rats. Inhal Toxicol. 2017; 29(11): 494–505.
  19. Bast C, Falke E. Phosphine and eight metal phosphides. Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Selected Chemicals. National Academy Press, Washington DC, USA. 2008. http://nap.edu/12018.
  20. Nath NS, Bhattacharya I, Tuck AG, et al. Mechanisms of phosphine toxicity. J Toxicol. 2011; 2011: 494168.
  21. Sciuto AM, Wong BJ, Martens ME, et al. Phosphine toxicity: a story of disrupted mitochondrial metabolism. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016; 1374(1): 41–51.
  22. Vohra RB, Schwarz KA, Williams SR, et al. Phosphine toxicity with echocardiographic signs in railcar stowaways. Abstracts of the 2006 North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology Annual Meeting, Clin Toxicol. 2006; 44: 719-720.
  23. Pepelko B, Seckar J, Harp PR, et al. Worker exposure standard for phosphine gas. Risk Anal. 2004; 24(5): 1201–1213.
  24. Proudfoot AT. Aluminium and zinc phosphide poisoning. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2009; 47(2): 89–100.
  25. Potter WT, Garry VF, Kelly JT, et al. Radiometric assay of red cell and plasma cholinesterase in pesticide appliers from Minnesota. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1993; 119(1): 150–155.
  26. Barbosa A, Bonin AM. Evaluation of phosphine genotoxicity at occupational levels of exposure in New South Wales, Australia. Occup Environ Med. 1994; 51(10): 700–705.
  27. Schaefer GJ, Newton PE, Gruebbel MM, et al. Acute and subacute inhalation neurotoxicity of phosphine in the rat. Inhal Toxicol. 1998; 10: 293–320.
  28. Wilson R, Lovejoy FH, Jaeger RJ, et al. Acute phosphine poisoning aboard a grain freighter. Epidemiologic, clinical, and pathological findings. JAMA. 1980; 244(2): 148–150.
  29. Lemoine TJ, Schoolman K, Jackman G, et al. Unintentional fatal phosphine gas poisoning of a family. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2011; 27(9): 869–871.
  30. Brautbar N, Howard J. Phosphine toxicity: report of two cases and review of the literature. Toxicol Ind Health. 2002; 18(2): 71–75.
  31. Waszkowska M, Walusiak-Skorupa J, Merecz-Kot D, et al. [Late effects of mass acute phosphine poisoning. Case report]. Med Pr. 2018; 69(3): 337–344.
  32. Szymczyk E, Wiszniewska M, Walusiak-Skorupa J, et al. Subclinical chronic left ventricular systolic dysfunction resulting from phosphine poisoning. Occup Med (Lond). 2017; 67(3): 233–235.
  33. Ziemer U. [Fatal hydrogen phosphide poisoning on a freighter]. Zentralbl Arbeitsmed. 1963; 13: 38–39.
  34. MAIB. Report on the investigation into the release of phosphine gas during cargo discharge on board Arklow Meadow, Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland on 5 December 2012. Marine Accident Investigation Branch, Southampton, UK. 2013. https://www.gov.uk/maib-reports/release-of-phosphine-gas-during-discharge-of-fumigated-maize-cargo-from-general-cargo-vessel-arklow-meadow-at-warrenpoint-northern-ireland.
  35. MAIB. Phosphine poisoning on general cargo vessel Monika with loss of 1 life. Marine Accident Investigation Branch, Southampton, UK. 2008. https://www.gov.uk/maib-reports/phosphine-poisoning-on-general-cargo-vessel-monika-with-loss-of-1-life.
  36. Loddé B, Lucas D, Letort JM, et al. Acute phosphine poisoning on board a bulk carrier: analysis of factors leading to a fatal case. J Occup Med Toxicol. 2015; 10: 10.
  37. Gard. Fumigation of cargo on board ships: the invisible killer. Gard News 204, Gard AS. 2011. http://www.gard.no/web/updates/content/20650371/fumigation-of-cargo-on-board-ships-the-invisible-killer.
  38. Afandiyev I. Mass phosphine poisoning on board a cargo ship. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2020; 58(6): 520.
  39. Belobrov E, Torskiy V, Rangayeva G. Analysis of accidents during maritime transportation of cargo fumigated with phosphine: Causes, consequences, prevention. In: Weintrit A, Neumann T, eds. Advances in marine navigation and safety of sea transportation. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, London, UK 2019: 99–104.
  40. IMO. Recommendations on the safe use of pesticides in ships applicable to the fumigation of cargo holds. MSC.1/Circ.1264, International Maritime Organization, London, UK. 2008.
  41. Kalbarczyk-Jedynak A, Stochla D, Kostecka E. Safety on-board a ship vs knowledge of the chemical processes discussed at the level of high school. Gen Prof Educat. 2018; 3: 39–44.
  42. MSAH. HTP-VÄRDEN 2020. Koncentrationer som befunnits skadliga (Occupational exposure limits, in Swedish). Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland, Helsinki, Finland. 2020. https://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/handle/10024/162458 (Accessed November 26, 2020).
  43. SWEA. Hygieniska gränsvärden (Occupational exposure limits, in Swedish). Swedish Work Environment Authority, Stockholm, Sweden. 2018. https://www.av.se/globalassets/filer/publikationer/foreskrifter/hygieniska-gransvarden-afs-2018-1.pdf (Accessed November 26, 2020).
  44. DWEA. Grænseværdier for luftforureninger m.v. (Limit Values for Air Contaminants, in Danish). Danish Working Environment Authority, Copenhagen, Denmark. 2020. https://at.dk/regler/bekendtgoerelser/graensevaerdier-stoffer-materialer-698/bilag-2/ (Accessed November 26, 2020).
  45. BAUA. TRGS 900 Technical Rules for Hazardous Substances (in German). Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin., Dortmund, Germany. 2020. https://www.baua.de/DE/Angebote/Rechtstexte-und-Technische-Regeln/Regelwerk/TRGS/pdf/TRGS-900.pdf?__blob=publicationFile (Accessed November 26, 2020).
  46. NIOSH. Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health (IDLH) Values. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Washington DC, USA. 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/idlh/intridl4.html (Accessed November 26, 2020).
  47. IARC. Monographs on the identification of carcinogenic hazards to humans. International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organisation, Lyon, France. 2020. http://monographs.iarc.fr (Accessed November 26, 2020).
  48. Hansen HL, Pedersen G. Poisoning at sea: injuries caused by chemicals aboard Danish merchant ships 1988-1996. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2001; 39(1): 21–26.
  49. Drouin M. Fumigation gas sickens 16 crewmembers aboard dry bulk ship near Welland Canal. Professional Mariner. Navigator Publishing LLC, Portland, Maine, USA. 2011. http://www.professionalmariner.com/April-2011/Fumigation-gas-sickens-16-crewmembers-aboard-dry-bulk-ship-near-Welland-Canal/.

Regulations

Important: This website uses cookies. More >>

The cookies allow us to identify your computer and find out details about your last visit. They remembering whether you've visited the site before, so that you remain logged in - or to help us work out how many new website visitors we get each month. Most internet browsers accept cookies automatically, but you can change the settings of your browser to erase cookies or prevent automatic acceptance if you prefer.

By "Via Medica sp. z o.o." sp.k., ul. Świętokrzyska 73, 80–180 Gdańsk

tel.:+48 58 320 94 94, faks:+48 58 320 94 60, e-mail:  viamedica@viamedica.pl