Friday, April 19, 2024

DAQ extends public comment period on methyl bromide fumigation rules until end of month

Methyl bromide is used to kill insects and pests present in logs before being exported to Asian markets. (Port City Daily/File photo)
Methyl bromide is used to kill insects and pests present in logs before being exported to foreign markets. (Port City Daily/File photo)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — The Division of Air Quality extended the public comment period on proposed rule changes that would increase methyl bromide emissions in North Carolina.

Initially slated to last 30 days, closing Friday, the Division of Air Quality’s (DAQ) director informed stakeholders Thursday the period would last two additional weeks.

Related: Over 100,000 New Hanover residents potentially over-exposed to fumigation chemical, DEQ accepting comments on new regulations

Five facilities in North Carolina currently hold Synthetic Minor state-issued permits that regulate methyl bromide emissions. However, just one stipulation that mitigates negative public health impact is carried with these permits: permittees must limit their use of the toxicant to 10 tons each year.

Potentially over-exposed

In an April report, the DAQ estimated approximately 152,000 people living in North Carolina may already be over-exposed to methyl bromide emissions. Approximately 125,000 people in this figure live in New Hanover County, as two operations are located off River Road and the Port of Wilmington.

New rules would require control measures for emissions and limit methyl bromide concentrations in the air anywhere from .005 to .078 milligrams per cubic meter. The lower-end of this measurement is based on an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guideline that sets an estimate in which an individual would be likely to not experience negative effects after continuous inhalation exposure over a lifetime.

DAQ recommends emissions be capped at .005 milligrams per cubic meter, but the Environmental Management Commission is considering .078 milligrams per cubic meter, based on an Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry minimal risk level established in 2018.

In New Hanover County, the DAQ estimated fenceline levels at the facilities could be as low as .61 milligrams per cubic meter at the Port (122 times higher than the EPA chronic health guideline) and as high as 24 milligrams per cubic meter at River Road (4,805 times higher).

Public comment

DAQ will close the extended public comment period on Aug. 30. Comments can be:

  • Emailed to with “Log Fumigation” set as the subject line.
  • Mailed to: Patrick Knowlson, NC Division of Air Quality, 1641 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1641

Catch up on the public notice for the rule changes and read DAQ’s May 2019 fiscal note, April 2019 Risk Analysis for more information.

Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at

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