Collecting data for the E.P.A.

by Teresa Acklin
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   U.S. grain elevators should make a concerted effort to record phosphine levels during a grain fumigation and present that information to the E.P.A. before several stakeholders meetings this summer, said Carl Reed, a grain storage specialist at Kansas State University, Manhattan.

   Dr. Reed, who is working on a research project on phosphine fumigations, even outlined the kind of data that elevators should collect.

   First, insure that the grain is properly fumigated, then record phosphine readings at various places inside and outside the elevator twice a day. “Most Kansas elevators own the required equipment — Draeger or other tube-using pump with low level tubes (0-4 ppm is best) or a 4-gas multi-meter with a phosphine sensor,” he said.

   Morning and evening readings should be taken in the gallery, in the tunnel, just outside the man-hole of the fumigated bin and 10 feet and 50 feet away from the structure in which the fumigated bin is housed, in all directions.

   “Accuracy and honesty would be very important, of course,” Dr. Reed said.

   Based on his research, these outside readings will be zero or close to zero, he said.

   Additional information should include the type and amount of grain, its temperature, fumigant dose, the type of structure fumigated and a summary of the average climatic and wind conditions from the time of fumigation to five or six days later.

   The same type of data should be collected during rail car or truck loading of grain that has been fumigated within a month of load-out. Readings could be taken near the load-out spout and at distances (10 feet, for example) away from the grain stream in all directions, Dr. Reed said.