Submitted to: Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: March 8, 2002
Publication Date: February 1, 2003
Citation: Yates, S.R., Gan, J., Papiernik, S.K. 2003. Environmental fate on methyl bromide as a soil fumigant. Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 177:45-122. Technical Abstract: Methyl bromide (bromomethane, MeBr) has been used widely since the 1940s as an effective pre-plant soil fumigant for controlling nematodes, plant pathogens, weeds and insects (UNEP, 1995; Noling and Becker, 1994). Fumigant use is vital for the economic viability of many crops, including strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tobacco, ornamentals, nursery stock, vines and turf (Anderson and Lee-Bapty, 1992; NAPIAP, 1993; Ferguson and Padula, 1994). The total global sales of MeBr were 7.16 × 107 kg in 1992, about 75 percent of which was used as a pre-plant soil fumigant (UNEP, 1995). Methyl bromide is also widely used as a structural and commodity fumigant, as well as for quarantine or regulatory purposes (Anderson and Lee-Bapty, 1992; NAPIAP, 1993; Ferguson and Padula, 1994; UNEP, 1995). Its success as a fumigant is largely due to its wide spectrum of activity against pests at many stages of life, its ability to penetrate the fumigated zones, and the ease of application. Because of its high volatility, it leaves very low residue levels in the soil that may be phytotoxic or accumulated in plants, a problem commonly associated with the use of many other modern pesticides. The purpose of this review is to summarize studies on the transformation and transport processes of MeBr in soil, the interactions of these processes, and their effect on volatilization of MeBr into the atmosphere. Special emphasis is given to recent field, laboratory and modeling studies that have been conducted for determining MeBr volatilization losses under various conditions, and for identifying approaches to minimize these losses.