Herbarium Pest Control

Giulio Cuccodoro giulio.cuccodoro at MHN.VILLE-GE.CH
Thu Oct 3 11:27:10 CDT 2002

For small amount of material (1-3 drawers), we use deep-freezing.

For moderate amount of material, we use Methyl-Bromid (CH3Br) in a
gaz-chamber (ca. 2 m3). This facility at our department is routinely shared
with the Botanical Garden of Geneva for desinfection of new acquisitions or
field samples prior integration into collection/herbarium.

Besides, we regularly (ca. each 2-3 years, because of defects inherent to
our 60's building) hire a specialized and adequatly trained private team to
desinfect the entire collection using CH3Br.

Randomly selected drawers are regularly checked visually. Even if complete
desinfections are quite expensive (ca. 30'000 US$), we are so far fully
satisfied of these procedures.

Obviously (again) nothing is perfect. Methyl-Bromid is a holly shit to
human health, can interact with Sulfure found in caoutchouc (and pervert
it) and tanned leather (very bad smell), but appears very appropriate at
least to entomological collections and herbaria. Highly volatile, H3Br goes
easily even into closed drawers where it kills everything and leaves no
toxic residues. Our main concern is that CH3Br is actually on the edge of
prohibition in Switzerland and Europe (at least), because it is hazardous
for the Ozone layer, like CFC. We are looking actively for an adequate
substitution gaz (suggestions most welcome). Meanwhile we have contacted
relevant officials for derogatory authorisations to carry on this way.

Table (in French...) of currently used desinfection gaz and (some) of their

                        HCN     CH3Br   PH3     C2H4O
Corrosif                +       -       ++      -
Inflammable             (+)     -       (+)     ++

HCN = acide cyanhydrique
CH3Br = bromure de méthyle
PH3 = hydrogène phosphoré
C2H4O = oxyde d'éthyle

Giulio Cuccodoro                Voice   +41(0)22 418 63 90
Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle   http://www.ville-ge.ch/musinfo/mhng/
C.P. 6434                       Phone   +41(0)22 418 63 00
CH-1211 Genève 6, Switzerland Fax     +41(0)22 418 63 01

Colis/parcel :
Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Rte de Malagnou 1, CH-1208 Genève

The opinions expressed in this email are those of the sender, and not
necessarily those of the Natural History Museum of Geneva.

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