ERMA to reassess methyl bromide

The Environmental Risk Management Authority has decided to begin a reassessment of the fumigant methyl bromide – a process that will determine if it can continue to be used in New Zealand.

Methyl bromide is a broad-spectrum fumigant that kills a wide range of pests, including soil-borne fungi, nematodes, weeds, insects, mites and rodents. Its use is currently a biosecurity requirement for some of New Zealand’s export markets, particularly for logs.

In 1992 methyl bromide was listed as an ozone-depleting substance under the Montreal Protocol, and developed countries were required to phase it out except for critical uses by 2005. Methyl bromide can now only be imported into New Zealand for quarantine and pre-shipment purposes.

“There is a significant degree of public concern about the effects of methyl bromide as an ozone depletor and possible health effects on workers, and a reassessment of it will clarify the risks, costs and benefits of its use,” ERMA New Zealand Chief Executive Rob Forlong said.

One of the grounds for reassessing the chemical is that there has been a significant change in the pattern of its use and the quantities being imported. This has been due in large measure to the growth in log exports to Australia, India and the Far East.

The next step in the reassessment process is the preparation of an application for reassessment to the Authority by ERMA New Zealand staff. Preparation of the application will involve considerable research and the collection of information from both New Zealand and overseas.

This work is expected to take up to 18 months, after which the public and interested organisations will be invited to make submissions and participate in public hearings before a decision is made on the future use of methyl bromide.

For further information contact:

Mark Walles, Senior Communications Advisor, ERMA New Zealand
Telephone +64 4 918 4813   Mobile 021 976 853
Facsimile + 64 4 914 0433    Email

Or if you would like to talk to an expert on methyl bromide and its use, please contact the Science Media Centre on 04 499 5476 or