Each year millions of containers arrive in ports around the globe. Typical international cargo has to travel for a long time in varying temperature and humidity conditions. Even though it may be inspected and considered to be safe prior to leaving its destination, hazardous chemicals and fumigants can off-gas during the transit. The combination of sealed containers and long journey times means that chemicals can build to a level that would never normally be encountered in domestic or industrial settings. In the effect, up to 20–30 percent of containers in major destination ports can contain air concentrations of chemicals on the level exceeding occupational exposure limits (OEL) and up to 70% of them can contain harmful chemicals. The numbers are expected to grow as more contamination cases are detected by means of improving gas detection methods, identification of new gases or simply by testing more containers.
The exposure to released volatile chemicals poses health risks. The problem concerns not only dockworkers and container unloaders, but it extends across the entire logistics chain, including drivers, handlers and even end-consumers opening product boxes. Safe handling of such contaminated containers at the destination is a topic of major concern due to variety of chemicals used, their toxicity, as well as their high levels, required for effective fumigation. These chemicals are not only introduced by fumigation, which is common practice for controlling pests and microorganisms in cargo, but they also come from product and packages themselves. Goods where glues or solvents are used in the manufacturing process, such as shoes, clothing, electronics, or decoration products, release of variety of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in form of material emissions.
Hazardous gas monitoring
These observations show that caution has to be taken when handling containers, especially if transported in international trade. The only way to be sure that a container is safe is to measure the gases inside it. Gas monitoring techniques used in practice are insufficient as they might not detect most of the harmful chemicals, are not able to identify less common gas compositions and finally might be not suitable for on-site operations, e.g. by requiring sophisticated and expensive measurements.
Gasera’s gas analysis technology enables game changing cargo container monitoring instrumentation offering required sensitivity, selectivity and speed for effectively measuring the VOCs emitted from a container. The type and quantity of gases inside it can be accurately measured to provide the port operator with a quick and reliable reading displayed on a mobile interface. The gas detection device itself is portable, easy to maintain and suitable for field operations allowing to efficiently incorporate gas measurements process into on-site operations.
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