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Methyl bromide

This page explains what methyl bromide is used for, why it is hazardous and how its use is controlled in New Zealand.

Use of methyl bromide

Methyl bromide is a highly effective fumigant used to control quarantine pests. This is both in primary products for export, such as logs and fruit, and in imported industrial and agricultural goods. It is an ozone depleting substance and toxic to humans.

Methyl bromide is a controlled substance under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Use of methyl bromide for quarantine and pre-shipment purposes (QPS) is exempted from controls under the Montreal Protocol, but countries are encouraged to reduce and replace it.

For further information see the 2018 assessment report of the Montreal Protocol’s Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC) [Ozone Secretariat website].

Management of methyl bromide in New Zealand

Methyl bromide use in New Zealand is controlled under the Ozone Layer Protection Regulations 1996 and the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.

It can only be used for QPS purposes. Importing methyl bromide for non-QPS purposes was phased out in 2005. 

Treatments required by a government agency as part of an official control programme are considered to be for QPS purposes. Methyl bromide used voluntarily for quality control reasons is not QPS and is not permitted. 

From October 2020, all uses of methyl bromide in New Zealand will require the use of recapture technology. For more information see Methyl bromide 2020 deadline [Ministry for Primary Industries website].

Find out more

Official use of methyl bromide [Ministry for Primary Industries website]

Import permits for methyl bromide [Environmental Protection Authority website]