Biocide regulation

15th of October 2010

Biocides used to control pests and germs are set to become safer and more environmentally conscious due to the EU legislation which parliament voted for last month. New biocides will also be authorised more swiftly for EU-wide sale than at present.

The broad aim of the draft regulation is to update existing EU rules, which bring cleaning chemicals into their remit. For the first time, materials treated with biocides will also be regulated. Parliament adopted a number of amendments to the draft legislation that will now have to
be considered by the Council of Ministers.

Parliament voted to ban the most toxic chemicals - especially those that are carcinogenic, harmful to fertility or interfere with genes or hormones. It also tightened up requirements to gradually replace other hazardous substances with less harmful alternatives.

MEPs want a centralised, EU-level approval of biocides to be phased in gradually. The European Chemicals Agency, they say, should be tasked with assessing applications for new and 'low-risk' products from 2013 and most other biocides from 2017. But member states should continue to decide on products that potentially pose the biggest health risks and should also retain the right to impose extra controls on the use of products approved at EU level.

Obliged to share data

Parliament also decided that, as in EU REACH rules for chemicals, companies should be obliged to share data from the tests they conduct on animals (in return for reasonable compensation) in order to prevent duplication of experiments.

Finally, with doubts remaining over the possible long-term health effects of nanomaterials, MEPs insisted on the need for separate assessment of such particles in biocidal products.


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