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What is Vikane gas fumigant?

Vikane is a colorless, odorless gas that is nondetectable by people during fumigation, as well as non-staining, non-corrosive and non-flammable. As a gas, Vikane dissipates into the atmosphere and does not deplete the ozone.
Commercial Uses

Originally developed by the Dow Chemical Company, SO2F2 (sulfuryl fluoride) is in widespread use as a structural fumigant insecticide to control drywood termites, particularly in warm-weather portions of the southwestern and southeastern United States and in Hawaii. Less commonly, it can also be used to control rodents, powder-post beetles, bark beetles, and bedbugs.

Sulfuryl fluoride (SO2F2), also known as Vikane™ (99.8 percent by weight sulfuryl fluoride and 0.2 percent inerts), was developed by Dow Chemical in the late 1950s as a structural fumigant. Vikane™ (currently manufactured by DowElanco) possesses characteristics for the eradication of structure-infesting insects). 
  • non-flammable
  • non-corrosive
  • colorless & oderless
  • does not cause undesirable odors
  • quickly penetrates structural materials
  • effective against a variety of structural pests
  • dissipates rapidly during aeration
  • does not leave residue

This material is an established structural fumigant, and therefore is considered an alternative to methyl bromide. First marketed in the United States in 1961, it has been used to fumigate more than one million buildings, including museums, historic landmarks, rare book libraries, government archives, scientific and medical research laboratories, and food-handling facilities.  Compared to methyl bromide, sulfuryl fluoride penetrates structural materials more rapidly, and is effective against a wide variety of pests, and leaves less residue in materials after aeration. These characteristics make it a viable alternative to methyl bromide in structural fumigation.

During application, the building is enclosed in a tight tent and filled with the gas for a period of time, usually at least 16-18 hours, sometimes as long as 72 hours. The building must then be ventilated, generally for at least 6 hours, before occupants can return. Sulfuryl fluoride is colorless, odorless, and leaves no residue. During the fumigation process, a warning agent similar to tear gas is first released into the building to ensure that no occupants remain.

Sulfuryl fluoride is an excellent broad-spectrum fumigant, due to its toxicity to target pests, good dispersion and penetrating qualities. It is commonly used to control a wide variety of household pests, including drywood and Formosan termites, wood-boring beetles (powder post beetles, death watch beetles, and old house borers), fabric and museum pests (clothes moths and furniture and carpet beetles), cockroaches, bed bugs, snails, brown dog ticks, and rodents (rats and mice) infesting buildings, furnishings, construction materials, and vehicles.  


Sulfuryl fluoride is highly toxic to all post-embryonic life stages of insects, eggs of most species are less susceptible. The efficacy of sulfuryl fluoride depends on the concentration reaching the target pest and the duration of exposure. As a result, the dosage of sulfuryl fluoride required for a specific pest is calculated in "ounce-hours," ounces of Vikane™ multiplied by hours of exposure. In general, insect eggs require a higher ounce-hour dosage of sulfuryl fluoride compared to later life stages (i.e., a 10-fold increase in dosage for some insect species).  However, the ability to control egg stages of social insects (i.e., termites and ants) is not necessary because these newly hatched larvae cannot survive without adult care. Furthermore, the higher dosages required to control insect eggs can be obtained by increasing the exposure time, concentration of sulfuryl fluoride, or a combination of the two. Fumigators use a "fumiguide calculation system" to determine the amount of Vikane™ required for specific pest and fumigation conditions.

Sulfuryl fluoride prevents insects from metabolizing the stored fats they need to maintain a sufficient source of energy for survival by disrupting the glycolysis cycle. Mortality may be delayed for insects for several days following fumigation, therefore insects that have received a lethal exposure to sulfuryl fluoride may still be alive immediately following fumigation (no longer than 3 to 5 days for termites). Sulfuryl fluoride has also been demonstrated to reduce oxygen uptake in insect eggs.


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