Shipping quantities of product overseas or within the United States often involves the placing of numerous packages or items on pallets. This allows for more efficient transportation of these items as they can now be loaded as a block rather as separate individual packages. However, the pallet deserves some examination. Having a pallet that's dirty or contains mold or another contaminant can cause the spread of this unwanted material to other parts of the country or the world. For this reason, the International Plant Protection Convention, which has been adopted by most countries, set down regulations for the treatment of pallets as part of its ISPM, the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures.
According to ISPM, pallets need to be heated to 132.8 degrees F for 30 minutes. The temperature reading needs to reflect the core temperature of the wood and not its surface.
Following the heat treatment, the wood pallets must be fumigated with methyl bromide. Failure to do so can result in the growth of mold. According to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, heat treatment without fumigation afterward can create moisture conditions in the wood which can help the cultivation of mold.
Once the wood pallets have undergone a heat treatment and have been fumugated, they must be marked properly. ISPM requires multiple markings: an IPPC symbol, the country code, the code for the provider of the producer or heat treatment, HT for heat treatment and MB for methyl bromide.
- pallet on rebar image by Derek Abbott from Fotolia.com