Volume 12 - Treatments



Treatments include a range of processes targeted at the control or eradication of pests.

Treatments are defined as follows:

  • any dismantling, repairing, cleaning or deodorising
  • the application of any substance
  • fumigation.

A range of circumstances govern the criteria for AQIS to require that commodities and or structures are treated. These conditions are linked to the importing country’s import conditions or health standards.

In the majority of situations, treatments will involve the application of a pesticide, for example fumigation with methyl bromide. Pesticides are used in a wide range of situations for an equally vast range of uses, for example, pesticide treatments are an integral part of the growing and storage of a diverse range of export crops and commodities.

In this regard, treatments may need to be applied and verified depending on the situation.

For example, pesticide treatment of horticulture crops in field may need to be recorded in certain circumstances to meet an importing country requirement.

The use of agricultural pesticides must comply with various state and federally administered legislation, in particular, the use of an agricultural pesticide must be in accordance with the current approved label unless approved under appropriate legislation, for example state control of use.

It is the responsibility of an authorised officer to verify if a pesticide treatment was conducted according to the approved label.

The client should be able to demonstrate appropriate legislation/documents that allow the legal use of a pesticide, for example a permit from the APVMA or an extract from the state control of use legislation.

If the authorised officer is unclear whether the use is consistent with state and federal legislation, the authorised officer is to contact the AQIS regional Plant Export Program Manager.

Until the authorised officer is satisfied that the treatment complies with state and or federal legislation, the treatment would not be accepted.

For more information on the range of agricultural pesticides and their approved use patterns please contact the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

Related Legislation and Work Instructions

The Export Control Act1982 and subordinate legislation, in particular The Export Control (Plants and Plant Products) Orders 2011, encompass horticultural commodities, grain, seed, timber, woodchip, hay and straw etc. This legislation provides overarching principles and outcomes governing the export of plants and plant products from Australia.

The AQIS Methyl Bromide Fumigation Standard provides in depth detail to assist in understanding the fundamental principles of fumigation. An AAO will need to be able to access this document to monitor fumigations if required and observe OH&S obligations.

Work instructions provide the instructional material to facilitate these outcomes. Note, the instructional material is specific to the plant product being exported, for example instructional material for grain and seeds differs when compared to fresh fruit and vegetables.

Treatment Categories

Treatments applied to consignments generally fall into one of four categories;

  • Mandatory
  • Treatment following rejection
  • Voluntary treatment
  • Commercial treatment

Mandatory Treatment

This is the term used for a treatment that is required by the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) of the importing country, as a condition of entry into that country.

Mandatory treatments must be applied to the goods prior to being presented for export inspection and certification unless alternative arrangements have been agreed to between the exporter and AQIS, such as fumigation consistent with Export Industry Advice Notice G2010/06. Treatment details must be included on the Phytosanitary Certificate under the treatment section.

Where a treatment is not supervised by an authorised officer, this requirement may be met via written declaration or presentation of a fumigation certificate from the exporter certifying the details of the treatment performed.

Note, at all times, consider personal safety and obtain a gas free certificate from the exporter prior to inspecting fumigated goods for export certification.

An example of mandatory treatments involving bulk grain may include fumigation with methyl bromide prior to export. In this example, some importing countries may specify the dosage and time concentration whilst other importing countries may simply state that fumigation with methyl bromide prior to export is required. In either circumstance, the authorised officer must be satisfied that the treatment has been performed and meets the importing country’s requirements.

To be satisfied, the authorised officer must be provided with a copy of the fumigation certificate clearly identifying that the goods were treated and meet the importing country’s requirements.

If the importing country requires treatment that is inconsistent with the current approved label or state control of use legislation, the authorised officer will need to contact the AQIS regional Plant Export office for advice.

Treatments following Rejection

This may be applied to prescribed goods following the detection of regulated/prohibited items in the goods upon presentation for export certification. All rejected consignments must be segregated to clearly distinguish the produce from goods that remain eligible for export to avoid cross contamination.

How the exporter segregates the commodity is at the discretion of the exporter. Please refer to Volume 14 (Product Security) for information about product security and maintaining consignments integrity, particularly in relation to the export of horticulture consignments.

Following treatment the exporter must advise the authorised officer in writing that the goods are being resubmitted for inspection. This advice may be in the form of a treatment certificate and must indicate the nature of any further preparation, treatment or processing operations that have been undertaken in relation to the produce to render it suitable for export.

Furthermore, the exporter must provide evidence that further processing or treatment has resulted in the produce being suitable for export. Any produce that has been treated following rejection must be held under conditions that ensure the security of the goods has been maintained to avoid cross contamination and consistent with conditions as considered necessary by an authorised officer.

Voluntary Treatment

Voluntary treatment is the term used for a treatment that is applied prior to the presentation of the goods for inspection.

Voluntary treatments are used as a remedial measure to address the presence, or potential presence of regulated and or prohibited pests and diseases as a precautionary measure, where the status of the goods may not be known.

Commercial Treatment

This is the term used for a treatment that may be applied as a standard industry practice or at the request of the importer and have no bearing on the certification of the goods.



Phosphine is used to control insects in grains, seeds, flour, plant products and prepared foods. It is used as a fumigant for seeds as it is not reported to adversely affect the germination of the seeds. 

Milled and oily commodities such as flour, soybean meal, fish meal, nuts and oilseeds are often fumigated with phosphine because this treatment is less likely to generate undesirable residues. Phosphine is also often used to treat tobacco, as the process does not result in the formation of any taints.

AQIS does not generally recognise phosphine as a quarantine fumigant for timber or timber articles because of concerns over its ability to penetrate these materials sufficiently.

The use of phosphine as a fumigant is limited by the long exposure time necessary to kill all stages of insects, the resistance of certain insect pests, and poor efficacy at temperatures below 15°C.

Phosphine is commonly applied into a grain silo in a gaseous state. Phosphine can be used as a phytosanitary treatment and dosage rates will be applied as per rates prescribed on the label.

Methyl Bromide

Methyl bromide is a colourless, odourless, non-flammable fumigant. It is an effective fumigant for treating a wide variety of plant pests associated with a range of commodities. Methyl Bromide is the most frequently used fumigant in quarantine fumigations.

Methyl Bromide may also be used to devitalize plant material.

Methyl Bromide is effective in treating the following pests:

  • Insects (all life stages)
  • Mites and ticks (all life stages)
  • Nematodes (including cysts)
  • Snails and slugs
  • Fungi

Fumigation is the act of releasing and dispersing a toxic chemical so it reaches the target organism in a gaseous state. Chemicals applied as aerosols, smokes, mists, and fogs are suspensions of particulate matter in air and are not fumigants.

The toxicity of a fumigant depends on the respiration rate of the target organism. Generally, the lower the temperature, the lower the respiration rate of the organism which tends to make the pest less susceptible.

Fumigation at lower temperatures requires a higher dosage rate for a longer exposure period than fumigation at higher temperatures.

Fumigants vary greatly in their mode of action. Some kill rapidly while others kill slowly. In sub lethal dosages, some fumigants may have a paralyzing effect on the pest while others will not allow the pest to recover.

Some fumigants have no effect on commodities while others are detrimental even at low concentrations. Commodities vary in their absorption of fumigants and in the effort required to aerate the commodities after fumigation.

Fumigations can be carried out in a variety of different chambers. These include bulk grain vessel holds, fixed capacity chambers, flexible tents and within containers. At all times fumigations are to be carried out by licensed fumigators.

Volume 11 | Index | Volume 12 (cont.)

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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