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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
December 12, 2016
Why We Did This Review
The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's (EPA's)
Office of Inspector General
(OIG) conducted this review to
determine the extent and
nature of adverse impacts
caused by structural
fumigation. We also sought to
determine whether regulatory,
program execution (e.g.,
training, funding, inspections,
enforcement, etc.), or other
factors are associated with
adverse impacts.
The focus of our review was
sulfuryl fluoride, the primary
pesticide used in residential
fumigation, and one that is
highly toxic to humans.
Residential fumigation involves
filling a home with sulfuryl
fluoride and placing a tarp or
tent over the home to trap gas
inside. This review focused on
EPA Regions 2, 4 and 9, as
they oversee states that
conduct the most residential
This report addresses the
following EPA goals or
cross-agency strategies:
•	Ensuring the safety of
chemicals and preventing
•	Protecting human health
and the environment by
enforcing laws and
assuring compliance.
Send all inquiries to our public
affairs office at (202) 566-2391
or visit www.epa.gov/oia.
Listing of OIG reports.
Additional Measures Can Be Taken to Prevent Deaths
and Serious Injuries From Residential Fumigations
What We Found
Since 2002, at least 11 deaths and two serious
injuries occurred during residential fumigations in
the two U.S. states with the most fumigation
treatments—California and Florida. Compliance
with current pesticide use requirements does not
always prevent adverse impacts.
The EPA can better prevent
deaths and serious injuries
caused during residential
fumigations by amending
sulfuryl fluoride labels and
monitoring compliance.
We identified multiple factors that contributed to these adverse impacts,
including: (1) no requirement to secure tenting around structures undergoing
fumigation, (2) ineffective devices used to detect pesticide levels inside of
structures, and (3) failure to attend mandatory training for residential pesticide
applicators who conduct fumigations.
In addition, we identified other program control risks that, if addressed, could
reduce the risk of future deaths and serious injuries:
•	The EPA could designate residential fumigation as a priority area for
enforcement, with special emphasis placed on locations such as Puerto
Rico, which has a high demand for residential fumigations but lacks
information to effectively oversee such fumigations. Data on sales and use
of sulfuryl fluoride in Puerto Rico are not reported and are unknown.
•	The EPA could require site-specific residential fumigation management
plans. Such plans can prevent accidents, identify appropriate emergency
procedures, and demonstrate compliance with requirements.
•	The EPA could complete work to develop a comprehensive national
pesticide incident database to monitor residential fumigation risks. The EPA
has an ongoing pesticide incident database initiative to collect data, but
there is no scheduled completion date.
Recommendations and Planned Agency Corrective Actions
We recommend that the EPA implement a process to evaluate label changes for
all three brands of sulfuryl fluoride to require secured tenting and fumigation
management plans, clearly define the criteria for meeting the applicator
stewardship training requirement, conduct an assessment of clearance devices
to validate their effectiveness, and establish milestone dates for the pesticide
incident database initiative. We also recommend that EPA Region 2 incorporate
into the cooperative agreement with the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture,
an investigation and evaluation of sulfuryl fluoride usage to determine whether
misuse has occurred, and then the EPA should provide assistance to Puerto Rico
as needed. The agency provided acceptable corrective actions and milestone
dates for six of the seven recommendations. Six recommendations are resolved.
One recommendation is unresolved with resolution efforts in progress.