Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Methyl Bromide? hmmmmmmm.

I posted yesterday about cutting up some pieces of pallets that I received from a local pallet recycler, and in trying to figure out where the wood comes from and what type of wood it is, I learned that some of the pallets I'm dealing with may have been treated with methyl bromide - a highly toxic chemical used to fumigate for bugs.

Pictured at left is a mark that is on many of the pieces of pallets that I'm dealing with. PK represents Pakistan. What I thought was HB might just be MB, which stands for methyl bromide.

Pictured on the right is a similar mark that I found online, and below is the explanation for the IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention) mark.

XX - indicates a two letter ISO country code.

0000 - the next series of letters/numbers is the unique identification mark of the wood treatment agent or packaging manufacturer. The number of letters or digits may vary according to each country.

The country code and treatment agent or manufacturer code must be separated by a hyphen.

YY - This indicates the type of treatment, and will either be HT (Heat Treatment) or MB (Methyl Bromide).

The marking 'DB' (indicating debarking has taken place) is no longer used. However, as pallets may last several years, the older style of ISPM15 marking is still permissible.

So, I'm trying to figure out if it's safe to use these pallet pieces to cut and burn in my wood-fired kiln. I've found some online posts in firewood forums saying to stay away from it as a fuel source, or at least where gloves and a mask when handling and cutting this wood. I've found a similar post where someone says the wood is only fumigated, not impregnated with a chemical, so it should be okay.

I know there's a pallet-burning kiln at the Energy Exchange near Black Mountain, NC. I wonder if anyone there has knowledge or experience in dealing with methyl bromide treated pallets.

Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill.

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