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What is IMFO ?

The International Maritime Fumigation Organization came into existence because marine fumigation, or fumigation continued in transit, is several times more complex than what we know as classic inland fumigation of silos and all kinds of static premises.


The idea behind the creation of IMFO

Fumigation can be most generally defined as the action of releasing and dispersing a toxic chemical that reaches a targeted pest in the gaseous state. The goal of fumigation is to confine enough gas for sufficient time to eradicate the target pest, which in normal conditions is achieved in a static chamber under control of one qualified fumigator, who is able to supervise and eliminate all related processes and possible hazards. Among them is control of the residue gas level, detection of possible leakages, properly performed degassing, etc.

Goods are also transported to other parts of the world, however they do not cease to be subject to fumigation. Fumigation in ships holds continued in transit is done with the purpose to prevent idle time of ships and avoid the related additional costs. Fumigation in transit became possible with use of Phosphine gas (Hydrogen Phosphide), the only fumigant allowed for this purpose by IMO Recommendations on the Safe Use of Pesticides in Ships (2002).

The introduction of fumigation in transit with use of Phosphine came in so smoothly into our life that traders, mariners and all other participants concerned seem to have barely noticed this effective innovation.

Several decades ago, a load of grain being declared insect-infested, grain traders would have 3 options: to accept this certification of the load which would make it impossible to sell the grain, or offload the infested grain from the vessel, or otherwise to fumigate the infested grain on board the vessel in port. Today fumigation in transit with use of Phosphine gas has replaced those ineffective, hazardous and uncomfortable options.

The process of marine fumigation begins at load port, continues for definite time during voyage to destination and ends at discharge port. The fumigation team performs fumigation works upon completion of loading issuing the certificate of fumigation in transit, stating in it the name of the fumigant used, the dosage and the exposure time which should be strictly observed.

The effect of Phosphine fumigants is based on reaction with moisture in the air to produce Phosphine which is toxic to all forms of life however it is detectable by an odor of carbide, decaying fish or garlic and very easily and quickly can be aerated thanks to the gas being only slightly heavier than air. Phosphine gas has permissible norms of gas concentration to allow people be exposed to it at very low levels for up to 8 hours a day without hazards to health. As against Phosphine, fumigation with Methyl Bromide would require that the ship be cleared of the crew for the whole period of fumigation as this fumigant is more than three times as heavy as air, requiring electric blowers to aerate the gas, it is injurious to all forms of life and exposure to it should be avoided by people at all concentrations.

Besides the necessity of fumigant application in the port of loading, there might arise difficulties both during the voyage itself and at the port of discharge, as fumigation is only completed when the exposure time has elapsed and ventilation has been completed and a gas free certificate issued by a competant person. To provide for due safety and proper efficacy, this complicated workflow requires participation of at least three parties throughout all this period of time: fumigators at load port, mariners, and fumigators at discharge. Fumigators at the port of loading provide the vessel with the necessary safety instructions at voyage and fumigators at discharge shall control the degassing process providing for that the load meets all necessary standards of the receiving country.

With the aim to improve cooperation between all parties concerned and increase level of Safety and efficacy for marine fumigation in 1994 the International Maritime Fumigation Organization (IMFO) was founded.


We can provide unrivalled expertise

  1. To develop common and improved standards of efficacy and safety for marine fumigation. 

  2. To develop an international group of independent companies that would enable its members to provide the option of guaranteed fumigation to their customers, by controlling the fumigation at both load and discharge port.

IMFO aims at

  • World-wide standards for the eradication of stored product insects in all stages of infestation by in-transit fumigation whether in bulk, bagged or containerised cargoes.
  • World-wide coordinated service of efficient, safe, guaranteed results in accordance with the United Nations International Maritime Organisations (IMO) recommendations.

Whichever service is performed by the members of IMFO group we keep up to the principles of:

  • SAFETY FIRST - We work strictly in compliance with the United Nations recommendations and our more stringent requirements in high risk situations. We can arrange a guarantee of safety
  • EFFICIENCY - Our network of companies ensures that fumigation is controlled from load to discharge.
  • ECONOMY - With our range of treatment options, you can select a treatment to the level of guarantee you require:

1 - Fumigation at load port

2 - Fumigation at load port and ventilation at discharge port 

3 - Fumigation at load port and ventilation at discharge port including written discharge report and full warranty

  • AVAILABILITY - Our international perspective means we can arrange in-transit fumigation almost anywhere in the world.


The intention was to act on a worldwide basis



The beginning

The IMFO Group was formed in 1994 by four companies based in Denmark, France, Spain and the UK who were all involved in ship fumigation.

IMFO 1st day - archives (.pdf)


The intention to act on a worldwide basis

The organisation exceeded the bounds of Western Europe on the second year of its existence having admitted 3 new members from Latin America and the USA.


The organisation started growing

IMFO came to Asia and Africa granting membership to fumigation companies in India and South Africa. The same year Canada joined the Group. Later on New Zealand and Ukraine followed.


A breakthrough

1999 was a breakthrough yearreinforcing IMFO with members from Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Slovenia. The new millennium was marked by acceptance of new members from Turkey, Italy, Argentina, Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia and Brazil.


The IMFO council

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