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Can we trust the labels on products treated with biocides?

Did you know that many of the products you use are treated with biocides? They can protect against viruses and bacteria, but some of them may be harmful. An EU-wide enforcement project, checking treated articles, has shown that companies need to improve how they are labelled to ensure their safe use.

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Products treated with biocides are more commonly used than you may think. The sports clothes you wear at the gym or your bedsheets at home may be treated with biocides to give them useful properties like reducing bacteria and sweat odour. Paints and cleaning detergents are also commonly treated to prevent them from being contaminated by microbes.  

Biocides may give your every day products desirable properties but some of the substances in them can be hazardous. Therefore, companies are required to inform consumers about these substances in their own language on the labels of the products.

An enforcement project with national enforcement authorities from 22 different EU Member States inspected almost 1 200 companies and checked more than 1 800 treated articles to see if the claims made about their biocidal properties were accurate and that they were labelled correctly.

In more than one third of the cases, the products were not labelled correctly and basic information such as the name of the active substance was often missing.

Some of the items were labelled with biocidal properties, but the inspection revealed that they were not even treated with biocides. Others did not have the information in the national language as required.

The companies that did not meet the requirements faced enforcement measures, intended to bring them into compliance, such as advice or administrative orders from authorities.

If you want to know more about a biocidal product that is used to treat a product, you can try out our database and search for it in the search bar. It will then give you information like the main ingredients and how it can be used safely.

Also, you have the right to ask if the products you buy contain a biocide above a certain limit that could be harmful to your health or to the environment. By law, suppliers have to give you this information, free of charge, within 45 days from the date of your request.

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