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Biocide Regulation in the EU –past, present and future


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Biocides encompass a broad group of substances, products (and even micro-organisms) that are used to control unwanted organisms; they include many household products including disinfectants and insecticides as well as formulations used in industry such as slimicides, cooling water biocides and even embalming fluids that are used to preserve bodies. This article looks at the regulatory hurdles facing biocides in the EU as the existing national schemes are being replaced by product authorisation under the Biocidal Products Directive [BPD] (98/8/EC). Historically many of these products have not required authorisation in some member states under the old national rules. Just as we are coming to terms with the implementation of the BPD it is being replaced by the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR). The article examines the changes the BPR will introduce for biocidal products.


Biocides have been used in one form or another since biblical times to control unwanted microorganisms, for example the use of copper or silver vessels to maintain the purity of drinking water, the use of salting and pickling of foodstuffs and the use of various salts to mummify and preserve bodies. In more recent times biocides have been developed for use in a wide range of applications where they play a vital role in controlling organisms that are harmful to man and animals and are essential in protecting both man-made and natural products from damage and decay.

Historically the requirement for the authorisation of biocidal products within the EU has been very mixed with certain products being regulated in most member states (e.g. antifouling paints, insecticides, rodenticides, wood preservatives) while other biocides have been regulated only in a few member states (e.g. household disinfectants, general preservatives). Because of this variation between what products are regulated and also the requirements for national compliance, it was thought to be a barrier to free trade ...