What Does The Term Biocidal Mean?

Biocidal in European legislation is defined as a chemical substance or microorganism that intends to deter, destroy, render harmless, or exert a controlling effect on any harmful organism,, whether by physical or chemical means.

Disinfectants are unlike other antimicrobial agents, i.e., antibiotics that destroy microorganisms within the body and antiseptics that kill them on living tissue. Disinfectants have the purpose of destroying the cell walls of microbes or causing interference with their metabolisms.

Sanitizers are used in hospitals, dental practices, or kitchens to kill infectious organisms,, on the other hand, concurrently disinfect and clean.

How Are Biocides Used?

Biocides are generally used as microorganisms and chemicals and contain one or several more substances of either chemical or biological origin.

The Main Uses Include:

  • Healthcare Products – used as an active ingredient in disinfectants antiseptic products, or to preserve pharmaceutical preparations in Hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
  • Consumer Products – building materials, furniture, cosmetics, textiles, wallpaper, and household cleaning products. Significant exposure to biocides often occurs with the regular use of pet & general disinfectants and personal hygiene products such as cosmetics and cleaning products. 
  • Disinfection of Containers relating to transport – fumigation of freight containers to protect goods when in transit and prevent insect and pest infestations.
  • Water Treatment – most commonly active in products such as chlorine, chlorine dioxide, and ozone for treating drinking water. Other applications include wastewater treatment and industrial use.
  • Food Production – active in food preservatives and disinfectants used for the food industry to clean surfaces, containers, equipment, and areas where food or drinks are stored.
  • Livestock Farming – a vital element in protecting farm animals from diseases that may spread to humans and disinfecting buildings or animals (teat dips).

All products containing biocides are subject to pre-marketing approval. The Biocidal Products Regulation regulates the placement of biocidal products on the market and their application in protecting animals, humans, articles, and materials against unfavorable bacterial or pests due to active substances contained in the biocidal product.

Health-related Concerns

Employees can be exposed to biocides through subsequent exposure or first exposure.
  • Secondary exposure happens when a worker uses biocidal products when cleaning contaminated work clothes.
  • Primary exposure occurs if a worker uses a biocidal product.
Generally, biocidal exposure occurs through dermal contact or inhalation.

Laboratory experiments indicated that biocides might lead to elevated selective pressure towards antibiotic and disinfectant resistance. This means certain bacteria have a high tolerance against disinfectants and develop cross-resistance to selected antibiotics. Antibiotics usage for animal production can leave residues in eggs, milk, or meat that can hurt the consumer. This is why antimicrobials are subject to pre-marketing approval.

Health Risks:

Biocides pose an unusually high risk to:
  • Pregnant women
  • Small children
  • Unborn life
  • People with chronic illnesses
Disinfectants and other dangerous biocides can include health hazards that harm the eyes, skin, nervous system, respiratory system, and other body organs.

Biocides can also negatively impact the environment and havesh repercussions on marine ecosystems.