Fluoride Action Network

Sulfuryl fluoride: Man found dead in San Jose house tented for fumigation

Source: San Jose Mercury News | January 17th, 2011 | By Sandra Gonzales
Industry type: Pesticides

Notes from Fluoride Action Network:

1. As the article below states, it has not yet been determined if sulfuryl fluoride was used in this structural fumigation incident. However, a local TV crew, KTVU , filmed the notice outside the house which clearly stated that it was sulfuryl fluoride.

2. Sulfuryl fluoride has two uses: one for structural fumigation to kill pests (trade name Vikane); and one for food use fumigation (trade name ProFume). Both contain 99.8% sulfuryl fluoride and 00.2% inert ingredients: the “inert” in Vikane is chloropicrin and the “inert” in ProFume has not yet been officially revealed by the EPA.)

3. See other deaths attributed to structural fumigation with sulfuryl fluoride.


The intentions of the man who entered a recently fumigated San Jose house on Lanier Lane are unknown. But his actions proved fatal as he apparently was overcome with toxic fumes and died.

The identity of the 45-year-old man was not released.

“We don’t know why he was there, whether he was homeless and trying to stay warm or was looking at the fact that no one was in the house and was trying to break in,” said San Jose police Officer Jose Garcia.

What is known is that the home on the 200 block of Lanier Lane had recently been fumigated and was covered with a tent when the man broke in, said Garcia. Authorities do not know when the man might have entered the house, but he was last seen Saturday evening.

When employees from the exterminator company returned to finish up the work at about 3:20 p.m. Monday, they found the man overcome with fumes inside. The house was temporarily vacant during the fumigation.

San Jose firefighters, who were called to the house, entered wearing special suits and masks and? carried the body of the man outside where he was pronounced dead.

It is unclear what kind of chemicals were used to fumigate the home. But in the past methyl bromide was commonly used in structural fumigation. However, it has been largely phased out because of stricter state pesticide regulations and replaced with Vikane — sulfonyl [sic] fluoride.

Fumigation, also known as tenting, is a method of pest control that completely gets rid of pests within the area being fumigated.

Typically, signs are posted at the site warning of the dangerous fumes. And, in this case, authorities said, signs were properly posted indicating the danger.