The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has banned the use of methyl bromide as a fumigant for pest control in crops.
A statement signed by the director general of the agency, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye yesterday warned the public, farmers, exporters of agricultural produce and agro-input dealers to desist from using methyl bromide as a pesticide.
The agency said methyl bromide is colourless, odourless, noncorrosive and non-flammable, highly toxic to a broad spectrum of insects from egg to the adult stage and that it was primarily used as a fumigant in stored product pest management.
The statement said: “Methyl bromide is a Class I Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS). It depletes the ozone layer due to the release of bromine atom upon the breakdown of the molecule. Methyl Bromide is a scheduled chemical under the Montreal Protocol for substances that deplete the ozone layer and was placed on a Phase out Procedure from 2001. Nigeria effected the phase-out of methyl bromide by January 2015 and since then the product has not been permitted for importation into the country.”
According to the statement, methyl bromide is an extremely toxic vapour and readily absorbed through the lungs in humans, and that most problems occur as a result of inhalation.
The agency said that methyl bromide is a dangerous cumulative poison, adding that first symptoms were often due to damage to the nervous system, and may be delayed from 48 hours to as long as several months after exposure. “This delay, combined with methyl bromide’s lack of odour, means that the victim may not realize that exposure is occurring until much time has passed,” it added.
The agency said it also received information that some unscrupulous individuals have been illegally importing methyl bromide for use as a pesticide in Nigeria, adding that it is currently carrying out surveillance to identify such illegal importers and that they would be severely sanctioned in line with the country’s extant laws.