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Sea containers will be shipped all over the world. To make sure pests of unwanted animals, bugs and bacteria do not stand any chance, containers will be fumigated with highly toxic gas, that usually attacks the nerve system. Some gases are also used to prevent cargo from rotting. When sea containers arrive at harbors, the harbor workers should measure the air inside the container on these gases, before they open it. Every year people die, get wounded or disabled because of lack of safety.

Besides fumigation gases, there could also occur other air pollution in these containers : 

   -    This polluted air could be released by the cargo that is shipped, like evaporating paint, leaking packages, wood or other biological freight.
   -    A chemical reaction could have taken place during the shipment.
   -    The packages of products that contains toxic content could leak, what can cause chemical and toxic vapours in the of the container. 

Below you will find a list of toxic gases that have been encountered with all different kinds of freight. This list has been determined in association with container fumigation companies all over the world.

 Freight:                            Gas:                                      Note:

Apricots

Methyl Bromide  
Artificial Flowers Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Xyleen
Asparagus Phosphine  
Bags Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Bags (plastic & printed) Toluene  
Benzene
Bamboo Methyl Bromide                 
Phosphine
 
Barley Phosphine  
Baskets (cane) Carbon Monoxide  
Carbon Dioxide
Phosphine
Methyl Bromide
Chloropicrin
Formaldehyde
Batteries Hydrogen (LEL)  
Camphene
Octanal
Nonanal
Urea
Isoborneol
2 Propenoic acid
Bedding Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Bicycle parts Benzene  
Bikes Formaldehyde  
Blankets Formaldehyde  
Boon (mung) Phosphine  
Methyl Bromide
Boots Benzene  
Bottles Phosphine  
Boxes (wooden) α Pinene  
Formaldehyde
Cacao Phosphine  
Cacaobutter Methyl Bromide  
Canned food Phosphine  
Carbon Monoxide
Carbonate Phosphine  
Carpets Toluene Toluene is probably not in the carpets themselves, but in the packaging material, since the carpets are often wrapped in thick plastic.
Carrot seeds Carbon Monoxide  
Cars Benzene  
Phosphine
Formaldehyde
Casino tables 1,2 Dichloorethane  
Cereals Carbon Monoxide Cargo came from Sweden.
Chairs (metal) Carbon Monoxide  
Formaldehyde
Chairs (wood & metal) Methyl Bromide Methyl Bromide because of the wood, formaldehyde because of the glue. If the chairs have a metal frame or bottom, there may also be Trichlorethylene in there as they clean metal with this. 
Trichloorethyleen
Formaldehyde
Chloropicrin
Cherries Phosphine  
Chipboard Formaldehyde  
Chive Phosphine  
Christmas items Benzene  
1,2 Dichloroethane
Phosphine
Clothing Formaldehyde  
Benzene
Toluene
1,2 Dichloroethane
Carbon Disulphide
Phosphine
Coconuts (ground) Carbon Dioxide  
Carbon Monoxide
Coffee Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Coffee beans Phosphine  
Carbon Monoxide
Dates Phosphine  
Methyl Bromide
Chloropicrin
Decoration material Phosphine  
Dog basket (fabric) Carbon Monoxide  
Formaldehyde
Easter products Hexane 1,2 dibromoethane is extremely carcinogenic and has a very low detection limit of 0.0003 ppm.
(iso)Pentane
Heptane
1,2 Dibromemethane
Electric motors Phosphine  
Electronics Benzene  
LEL
Firework Phosphine  
Fitness devices 1,2 Dichloroethane  
Methyl Bromide
Fitted sheets Toluene  
Formaldehyde
Flour Phosphine  
Flowers Phosphine  
Formic acid Carbon Monoxide  
Fountains 1,2 Dichloroethane  
Methyl Bromide
Benzene
Fruit (dried) Methyl Bromide  
Chloropicrin
Furniture Methyl Bromide  
Formaldehyde
Phosphine
Chloropicrin
Garden statues 1,2 Dichloroethane  
Gears Benzene  
Glassware Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Gloves Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Glowsticks Benzene  
Hexane
Glue stick Methyl Bromide  
Handtrucks Carbon Monoxide  
Hats Phosphine  
Honey (in drums) Formaldehyde  
Household items Methyl Bromide  
Phosphine
Hydrogen Cyanide
Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Dioxide
Formaldehyde
Chloropicrin
Inflatable boats Carbon Monoxide  
Benzene
Inflatable letters Formaldehyde  
1,2 Dichloroethane
Benzene
Toluene
Ink Formaldehyde  
Irons Phosphine  
Jackets Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Lamps Formaldehyde  
Laptop bags Ammonia  
Benzene
Toluene
Carbon Monoxide
Formaldehyde
Latex Phosphine  
Limestone Carbon Dioxide  
Machine parts 1,2 Dichloroethane  
Methyl Bromide
Mantles Formaldehyde  
Mattresses Methyl Bromide  
Benzene
Toluene
1,2 Dichloroethane
Methylene Chloride
Carbon Disulphide
Meat pin (wood) Carbon Monoxide  
Medical equipment Ethylene Oxide  
Medications Methyl Bromide  
Carbon Sulphide
Formaldehyde
Mirrors Formaldehyde  
Phosphine
Monitors (computer) (Iso)pentane For computer monitors it is usually (iso)-pentane where the PID, LEL and the tubes react on. When you suspect there is (iso) pentane in the container, you can use the following rejection rule (all 3 should be higher as the given concentration):
Toluene - PID 80 or higher
Styrene - LEL 5 or higher
1,2 Dichloroethane - Reading on pentane tube 800 ppm or higher
Hexane  
Xylene  
LEL  
Moving containers Methyl Bromide  
Carbon Monoxide
Phosphine
Formaldehyde
Musical instruments Phosphine  
Nail polish Formaldehyde  
Nail polish remover Formaldehyde  
Notebooks Phosphine  
Nutrition (general) Methyl Bromide  
Methyleenchloride
Carbon Sulphide
Chloropicrin
Formaldehyde
Phosphine
Nuts Phosphine  
Blauwzuur
Ammonia
Nuts (Cashew) Methyl Bromide On October 2010 there has been 450 (!) ppm phosphine found in a vacuum packed bag!
Chloropicrin
Phosphine
Nuts (ground) Phosphine  
Office chairs Phosphine  
Onions Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Oregano Methyl Bromide  
Chloropicrin
Painting pots Butylacetate  
Vinylacetate
Pallets (wood) Methyl Bromide  
Paper Formaldehyde  
Picture frames Benzene  
LEL
Pillows Formaldehyde  
Trichloroethane
Pillows (decorative) Carbon Monoxide  
Pine nuts Carbon Monoxide Values of both carbon monoxide and dioxide can sometimes really add up.
Carbon Dioxide
Planters Styrene The planters were packed in styrofoam. The styrene was in the styrofoam.
Plastic (general) Toluene Benzene, toluene, xylene, styrene, etc., used as a solvent. Ammonia is used as a degreaser. 
Benzene
Xyleen
Styreen
1,2 Dichloroethane
Ammonia
Plastic books for children Toluene  
Benzene
Formaldehyde
Plastic bottles (Spa, Cola, etc.) Benzene  
Toluene
Plastic toys Formaldehyde  
1,2 Dichloroethane
Benzene
Toluene
Plums Phosphine  
Poppy seed Phosphine  
Pots (stone) Toluene  
Pottery Carbon Monoxide  
Pullovers Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Rabbit Hutches α Pinene  α-pinene is characterized by a strong pine air.
Raisins Phosphine  
Hydrogen Cyanide
Refrigerators Carbon Dioxide  
1,1 Dichloro 1 Fluoroethane
Rice Carbon Dioxide  
1,1 Dichloro 1 Fluoroethane
Rolls of film Dichloromethane  
Rubber Phosphine  
Methyl Bromide
Chloropicrin
Screws Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Shampoo Formaldehyde  
Shoes Toluene  
Benzene
Formaldehyde
Ammonia
Carbon Sulphide
1,2 Dichloroethane
Phosphine
Cyclohexane
Shopping bag Formaldehyde  
Slippers Methyl Bromide  
Toluene
Benzene
Ammonia
Formaldehyde
Sockets Benzene  
Stamps (for children) 1,2 Dichloroethane Op 14/11/09 the Ministry has found a load of 1,2 dichloroethane in a freight of children stamps in such huge amount,  that the police in The Netherlands decided to make an official report for importing a toxic gas!
Stone (natural) Methyl Bromide The stone are being shipped in wooden crates. Methyl bromide can be in there. 
Hydrogen Sulphide Hydrogen sulphide is quite rare, but is there sometimes anyway.
Formaldehyde  
Carbon Dioxide Through natural processes sometimes there can be insufficient oxygen in the container.
Styrofoam Styrene  
(Iso)pentane
Suitcases Phosphine  
Sunflower seeds Phosphine In a load of sunflower seeds in two containers from Turkey in December 2009, there has been respectively 10 and 2.3 ppm Phosphine encountered, and on March 2010 even 15 ppm Phosphine (took two weeks to get the container gas free)!
Textile Formaldehyde  
Phosphine
Toluene
Chloropicrin
Ties Ethanol  
Carbon Monoxide
Ammonia
Formaldehyde
Toasters Ammonia  
Tobacco Methyl Bromide  
 Phosphine
 Formaldehyde
Toilet seats Phosphine  
Toothpaste Phosphine  
Toy guns 1,2 Dichloroethane  
Toys Benzene  
Methyl Bromide
Toluene
1,2 Dichloroethane
1,2 chloorpropeen
Formaldehyde
Phosphine
Blauwzuur
Transformers Methyl Bromide Chloropicrin  
Trash (Dangerous) Phosphine  
USB Sticks etc. Benzene  
Toluene
Formaldehyde
Vacuum cleaners Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Wallets Benzene  
Toluene
Carbon Monoxide
Formaldehyde
Water tap Phosphine  
Water pipe Phosphine  
Formaldehyde
Weir wood Methyl Bromide  
Phosphine
Whetstones Methyl Bromide  
Chloropicrin
Wine Methyl Bromide  
Chloropicrin
Wishing stones 1,2 Dichloroethane  
 Methyl Bromide
Wood (unmodified) Methyl Bromide  
Phosphine
Hydrogen Cyanide
Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Dioxide
Formaldehyde
Chloropicrin
Wool Phosphine  
Yeast Methyl Bromide  
Chloropicrin