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Soil Fumigants

Soil fumigation? In my area? What should I know?

What is a fumigant?

A fumigant is a type of pesticide that forms a gas once it is applied. This web page pertains to soil fumigants used to control soil-borne pests such as insects, fungi and weed seeds. If you’d like more information about fumigants or other pesticides, contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC). Exit

A sign says there is a fumigant buffer zone. What should I do?

Do not enter the buffer zone even if you see workers in the area, or cars and bicycles passing through the area. You should not experience any effects as long as the fumigant is applied correctly and you stay out of the area. It is okay to move through a buffer zone in a vehicle or on a bicycle, but otherwise never enter a buffer zone.

A buffer zone provides distance between the application site (i.e., edge of the treated field) and bystanders. Buffer zones are there so the fumigant can dissipate before it can reach any residential or public areas.

Signs are posted before a field is fumigated and remain until the buffer zone expires. Once the sign is removed, it is okay to enter the area. The sign has information about the fumigant applied and how to contact the certified applicator in charge of the fumigation.

A sign says a nearby field is going to be fumigated. What should I do?

Do not enter the area while the sign is in place. You should not experience any effects as long as the fumigant is applied correctly and you stay out of the area.

I received a message (or a notice) that a fumigation is going to happen in my area. What should I do?

The message you’ve received is a precaution so that residents who live nearby will know to avoid the treated area and buffer zone, and for how long. You also should have received information on:

  • the product that is going to be used,
  • how to contact the certified pesticide applicator and/or property owner,
  • early signs and symptoms of exposure to the fumigant, and
  • what to do if you experience symptoms of exposure.

Who should I contact if I have more questions about the fumigation in my area?

For more information on a particular fumigation, contact the pesticide applicator. The contact information can be found on the sign or in information you may have received such as a notice or a voice mail message.

How will I know if I’m exposed to a soil fumigant?

Early signs and symptoms of exposure to common fumigants include:

  • Watering, burning, or irritation of the eyes, nose or mucous membranes.
  • A headache, nausea or dizziness (less common).

Signs and symptoms of more extreme cases of exposure may include:

  • tremors,
  • slurred speech,
  • loss of muscle coordination,
  • a skin rash, and
  • burning or blistering of the skin.

Since heat stress and other factors can produce similar signs and symptoms, your medical provider may be able to assist you with determining the cause of your illness.

What should I do if I feel ill?

Seek immediate professional medical attention or call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. In an emergency, leave the area and call for emergency help – usually 911.

What should I do if I have a question or concern about a fumigation?

  • For questions about the fumigation, contact the applicator listed on the buffer zone sign.
  • If you have concerns about the fumigation,