Metal phosphides—priority 5

Chemical class Phosphine – group includes aluminium phosphide, magnesium phosphide and zinc phosphide
Chemical Structure Chemical structure of metal phosphides
CAS Number Aluminium phosphide (20859-73-8), Magnesium phosphide (12057-74-8), Zinc phosphide (1314-84-7)
Mode of action 24A – Mitochondrial complex IV electron transport inhibitors (aluminium phosphide, magnesium phosphide)
Target pests Rabbits, insect pests, various moths, weevils, beetles, borers and mites
Hosts Stored commodities such as seeds and grains, milled products, dried fruits and nuts, in processed foods and in animal foods
Formulations Bait, sachet, tablet, gas generating product, granular, pellet and solid
Home garden use No
No of Australian Approvals and Registrations

Aluminium phosphide – 10 active constituents, 30 products

Magnesium phosphide – 1 active constituent, 1 product

Zinc phosphide – 6 active constituents, 15 products
Poison schedule No Schedule
Australian Health-based guidance values No Australian ADI or ArfD established

Key issues

  • Potential to cause harm to users and bystanders at low concentrations, particularly when used in poorly sealed storage facilities or in-truck grain treatment.
  • Concern that use protocols are not being adhered to thereby leading to poor efficacy, worker safety and bystander safety.
  • Concerns primarily relate the use of metal phosphides for grain treatment, not for rodent control.
  • A label review is necessary to achieve consistent directions for use.

Stakeholder perspective

  • Phosphine is key chemical for insect control in stored grain. Alternative chemical or physical control options are limited.
  • The grain industry does not consider that use of phosphine poses unmanageable risk to public health, worker safety or the environment.
  • It appears that some degree of insect resistance to phosphine has developed.

To protect your privacy, please do not include contact information in your feedback. If you would like a response, please contact us.