A typical British summer can create the perfect environment for mould on wooden pallets to thrive. Frequent showers can lead to trapped moisture in storage facilities, whilst warmer temperatures can promote mould growth.
Fortunately, mould on pallets will often have no adverse effects on the products that are being shipped, as packaging will protect them from direct contact with the wooden pallet and any mould that exists. There are still precautions that you can take, however, especially when shipping sensitive items such as pharmaceuticals or food.
Mould is a fungus and needs moisture, food and oxygen to survive. The food is generally the wooden pallet itself, and oxygen is difficult to remove from an environment. It is possible to limit moisture, however, in order to minimise mould problems.
It is also possible to ensure that wooden pallets are not stored close to other mould infestations. Of course, mould spores are everywhere, but attempting to prevent cross-contamination can still minimise issues.
It is also essential to always choose heat-treated wooden pallets if you want a guarantee that pallets start out free from any harmful insects or mould.
Other options include using metal or plastic pallets, or even paper and press wood pallets, which are not affected by fungi. There are downsides to choosing these options, however, and so it is important to consider the pros and cons of whatever type of pallet you choose.
If pallets are stored for long periods, it is essential that they are kept in a dry area where air can circulate well.
Do not store them close to older items or rubbish, which may be contaminated with fungi, and avoid storing plastic-covered wooden pallets outside, as this can lead to problems caused by trapped moisture within the stack.
Fans may be useful to improve air flow and circulation if you are storing large numbers of wooden pallets and make use of rack storage.
Wooden pallets can also be dried in a kiln or allowed to dry in the open air in order to reduce moisture problems. It is commonly accepted that wooden pallets with less than a 20 per cent moisture content are most resistant to mould growth.
Pesticides can also be used in some circumstances to prevent infestations in the wood, especially if sensitive goods are being shipped. These, combined with moisture-reduction measures, can be extremely effective in reducing the risk of contamination to palletised goods.