Article: Toxic gases in boxes from China: ‘Leave your order for another day…’

This article was placed in the Algemeen Dagblad (NL) and is translated from Dutch. You can find the original article over here.

Toxic gases in boxes from China: ‘Leave your order for another day…’

Dutch consumers and port employees are unnecessarily exposed to toxic gases due to Chinese and Asian products that are loaded into a container too quickly after producing them. Gas measurement companies in the port of Rotterdam are warning for this. Products are concerning, among others, shoes, electronics, white goods and various plastic trinkets.

Of every ten containers that reach the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, at least one contains too high concentrations of toxic gases, according to Gasmeetstation and EWS Group, the biggest companies in gas measurement and ventilation of ship loads. Yearly, hundreds of thousands of ‘wrong’ containers are concerned: in the first half of this year, 7,5 million containers arrived in the port of Rotterdam alone.

Reason for the warning is the drama concerning the inland navigation couple De Waardt, that landed on the intensive care of the UMC, because of a load treated with Phosphine (rat poison).

According to reputable gas measurement companies, it goes wrong more often. On one hand, there are containers with, for example, grain, corn and rice that are consciously treated with gas in order to kill pests. The biggest category, however are products that vaporize toxic gases themselves. „Those are the real silent killers”, says Joren Nieuwenhuizen, director/owner of EWS Group and Chairman of Stichting Kennis en Advies Gasmeting en Ontgassing (KAGO). Shoes, but also white goods, electronics and all kinds of trinkets of plastic, pvc, wood and synthetics like Christmas houses and packaging materials.

Half of shoes gets rejected

At Gasmeetstation, employees measure too many dangerous gases in 12 percent of the containers. In the fifth percent of the cases, it concerns gases against pests, like Phosphine. The biggest part (80 percent) concerns toxic vapours from goods that were produced too fast.

Competitor EWS Group – which is also active in Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain – finds dangerous concentrations of gases in 11 percent of the hundreds of thousands of containers they check every year. However, that is the average „We reject almost half of the loads with shoes”, tells Director Nieuwenhuizen. „Shoes are coming from Asia, where they are glued together with cheap products like formalin and toluene.” Shoes are transported before the glue has dried, during transport they also encounter the warm tropics. „This leads to a big gas bubble, that often exists of a mixture of different gases.”

Those shoes end up in warehouses and eventually in shoe stores. „That nice scent of new shoes, actually is the evaporation of volatile organic substances with potentially dangerous health effects”, Nieuwenhuizen says. His own children preferably only get shoes that where produced in Europe.

Mandatory ventilation phase

Health damage is revealed at the long term, Leo Roderkerk of Gasmeetstation complements. „Toxic, carcinogenic substances build up in the body. Nobody knows how many people eventually get sick. And if you get sick, try to prove that it’s because of the toxic container gases.”

Chemist Dr. Atie Verschoor, expert in container gases, pleads for a mandatory ventilation phase between production and transport. „Buyers in The Netherlands should oblige Chinese producers to do so. But the extra cent that those products will cost, apparently is too much.”

Verschoor, who has been director for years of the expertise centre in container gases ECEmed that was connected to the Rijstate hospital in Arnhem, states that Dutch consumers should be informed much better about the dangers of imported goods. „Don’t take a new pc or tv out of the box in the living room immediately. Put them somewhere they can ventilate for 24 hours first.”

According to all experts, the attention for toxic containers has weakened in the last years and they are inspected not often enough. A decade back, it has been different for a while, also due to reports of Zembla and Argos. Platform Gassen in Containers (PGIC), as well as a special contact point were formed. In the House of Representatives, Remi Poppe (SP) and Jan Boelhouwer (PvdA) advocated for a special inspection team.

More attention for safe production

According to the Inspectie Leefomgeving & Transport (IL&T), the situation has improved structurally. „Now, there are many more ventilation units and more awareness that containers can be dangerous,” a spokesperson states.

Director Nieuwenhuizen of EWS Group would like to see more attention for safe production. „In Europe, we banned many detrimental chemicals, and now these chemicals enter our country through Asia because we love to buy cheap stuff.”

Nieuwenhuizen repeatedly invited the government to share his expertise. „We have been building a database with more than one million containers since 2010. Not even 2 percent of the total amount of containers that enter The Netherlands are checked nowadays.”

Response Customs: 16.625 containers were checked in 2018

In a response, customs let us know that every container that is inspected, also must be opened and checked for the presence of dangerous gases. The Douane Rotterdam Haven (DRH) says that 16.625 containers were checked last year „in different processes”. Of these, 77 were reported to the Inspection SZW, because they contained too high concentrations of gases or vapours. This year, it is expected that the total of physically inspected containers will be a little higher, according to DRH. Up until last week, 90 incoming and 15 outgoing containers were reported to the Inspection SZW, because they contained gases or vapours that exceeded the statutory limits.

EWS Pest control receives the IPM & KPMB certificates again

After a successful audit, EWS Pest control has received the IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and KPMB (Keurmerk Plaagdier Management Bedrijven) certificates again this year. The KPMB certificate shows that EWS is a specialized organisation of high quality. EWS Group also meets the requirements of ‘Rat control around buildings and food storage areas’.

Fosfine (ph3) in vacuum packaging cashews

More than 70 percent of all cashews are fumigated with fosfine right before they are packed. The goal of this is to kill stock harming insects. Cashews are almost always packed in vacuum plastic bags in boxes. Because of the vacuum, the gas can’t get out of the packaging. This brings along a huge risk for the people opening these boxes and plastic packaging afterwards.

Dangers of fosfine

Fosfine is ingested in the body by breathing it in. Fosfine is colourless, scentless and inflammable. It is also deadly in really small concentrations. The limit value of fosfine is almost everywhere in the world  0,1 ppm. Fosfine comes along with enormous health hazards, like shortness of breath, dizziness, drowsiness and even arrhythmias. People who are exposed to fosfine regularly can develop brochitis and anemia, among others.

The solution of EWS Group and NCP Group

EWS Group does not only carry out gas measurement of containers and open areas, but also measures between and inside the goods when there is a reason to do so. With our many years of experience, we measure a minimum of ten boxes in vacuum in a container of cashew nuts. The results of this are shocking. We regularly stumble upon concentrations of fosfine of more than 1000 times the statutory limit!

NCP Group, a sister company of EWS Group, has developed a service regarding the degassing of these batches of cashew nuts in a responsible and safe way. NCP Group rebags the cashews from the boxes in a big bag. We do all this with respiratory protection. The big bags are ventilated by means of an innovative extraction installation. With this installation, the detrimental gases are intercepted by carbon filters. We do this until the concentration of fosfine is below the limit value. After that, the cashews can be packed in any desired packaging.

Would you like to know more about the Gas measurement division of EWS Group? Go to: https://www.ews-group.nl/en/gas-measurement/. Are you curious about how NCP Group can help you? Visit https://www.ncp-group.nl/en/

Raised fines for not complying with Dutch Law on Working Conditions

The fines for violating the Dutch Law on Working Conditions have been raised. There still are many companies (half of the lawfully obliged companies) that do not have a risk-inventory and -evaluation (RI&E). Futhermore, the RI&E of companies that do have one, often is incomplete. An RI&E is legally required, but is also very important to guarantee the health and safety of the own employees and to work more efficiently. Read more about this in the article of Evofenedex (Dutch): https://www.evofenedex.nl/kennis/actualiteiten/boetes-voor-overtreden-arbowet-gaan-omhoog

RI&E mandatory

The raise of the fine (sometimes with 40 percent) is an interesting development. To prevent a fine, companies must draw up a valid RI&E. Since 2012, the gas measurement of containers is a mandatory part of the risk-inventory and evaluation. EWS Group can assist companies by drawing up a valid RI&E regarding the gas measurement of containers and the evaluation of gas measurements.

EWS can assist

To unburden the customer, we draw up a measurement protocol, in which containers are automatically selected for a gas measurement. This automation makes sure that containers are safe to enter. An important aspect to this is our online EWS Portal. This is a useful tool because of its’ clarity. In the Portal, the customer can find elaborate reports, measurement results and gas measurement certificates. Besides that, our clients get periodic reports every year, with which they can explain themselves to the Dutch health and safety service.

Would you like to know more about how we can help or about our online Portal? Do not hesitate to contact us or go to: gas measurement.

New drive-through location Oosterhout

From today, our container gas measurement drive-through in Oosterhout moved from the Visserijweg 4a to the Koopvaardijweg 9a! On this location is also our new laboraty where our Expert Team safeguards the quality and performs additional research.

Cluster flies: harmless, but bothersome!

Spring is here and it’s starting to get warmer. That’s nice, but it also brings along bother with cluster flies.

Life stages

The cluster fly looks much like a usual fly. The cluster fly is a bit longer. The colour of the fly is brown-grey and its breast is covered in gold hairs. In the different life stages (egg-larvae-pop-adult), the cluster fly changes a lot. The females lay eggs under the ground, these eggs hatch within three days in the summer. After hatching, the larvae actively search for earthworms. Once they found one, they drill a hole in them and eat them from the inside. As soon as the worm died, the larvae will pop under the ground. It is common for cluster flies to have two generations per year, but if it is very hot in summer, they can also have as much as four. Adults feed with the nectar of flowers.

Lifestyle

The cluster fly thanks his name to the fact that they winter in swarms of possibly a thousand flies. They do this in the tops of buildings in covered places, like corners and cracks. In spring, when it’s slowly starting to lighten up and get warmer, the flies awake and are attracted by the light. They will mainly hang around the building they wintered in. After a couple of weeks they leave the building. The cluster flies can be very bothersome, because they are never alone, but always in a swarm. That is why we recommend getting rid of them by a professional in pest control.

Control

Cluster flies are harmless, but they can be very bothersome in big numbers. They sit on windows in swarms for example (because they are attracted by light). EWS Pest control is your professional in fighting the cluster fly. We do this by performing a seams and cracks treatment. This means that, in autumn, we spray an insecticide on every possible entrance in the top of the building. Consequently, flies that are looking for cover and try to get In, will be killed instantly. To prevent any fly from surviving, we always carry out a second treatment in spring. This way, the flies that come out after wintering are also killed.

Would you like to have more information about the control of cluster flies or other kinds of insect nuisance? Don’t hesitate to contact us, or go to: https://www.ews-group.nl/en/pest-control/

New dilutor CGM 2000 for EWS Gas measurement

EWS Gas measurement is improving its quality and increasing possibilities with the Computerized Calibration System CGM 2000. With this new dilutor we can make a mix of four gases/vapours with a different humidity in our own laboratory. This allows us to calibrate our gas measurement equipment very accurately. Besides that, it allows us to recreate conditions that occur in containers. This makes it possible to measure your containers even more accurate! Do you want to have some more information about our gas measurement services? Go to https://www.ews-group.nl/en/gas-measurement/

dilutor CGM 2000

Port Quarantine Services SrL established today

EWS Group (Eco Worldwide Solutions Srl.) Italy and Spediporto / Spediservices join forces in PQS Group (Port Quarantine services Srl.).

PQS Group is a cooperation between EWS Group Italy and Spediservices, offering quarantine services in multiple port areas in Italy. Gas measurement, fumigation, BMSB-treatments and many more belong to the broad spectrum of services PQS Group provides.

To celebrate the launch, PQS Group is starting with a special promotion in the port of Genua! Do you have containers arriving in this port? Then you’re in luck. From the 6th to the 10th of may PQS Group is doing free gas measurement demonstrations! Interested? Contact Marta Mottin on +39 348 26 84 121 or send an email to info@pqs-group.it

EWS Pest control is a member of PLA..N.!

Besides our NVPB membership, from now we are also a member of the branch organisation Platform Plaagdierbestrijding Nederland (PLA..N.). This organisation is devoted to the interests of companies that are operating in the field of pest control and wood preservation. Besides that, PLA..N. aims for increasing the quality and professionalising the pest management branch. For more information about PLA..N., you can go: https://www.platformplaagdierbeheersing.nl/ and for insight in our memberships and certifications, go to: https://www.ews-group.nl/over-ons/certificeringen/

 

EWS Group as a training institute

Did you know that EWS Group is a recognised training institute for intermediate gas measuring experts? We train our gas measurement staff and people from other companies in our own training centre. After the course, a theoretical and practical exam has to be taken. The practical exam also takes place in our training centre, with our training container. Are you interested in this training? Take a look at https://www.ews-group.nl/en/gas-measurement/training-mgk/ and apply!