What's in a biocide? - Chemicals In Our Life

What's in a biocide?

Biocides are products that act against pests and bacteria. To have this effect, they often contain hazardous chemicals. If you want to know what’s in the biocides you buy and to find the most environmentally friendly options, try out our database on biocides.

We rely on biocides for many things. For example, we disinfect our hands at hospitals to avoid spreading bacteria, and we use mosquito repellents to avoid nasty bites.   
  • Disinfectants protect your skin and the surfaces in your home from bacteria, yeasts, fungi and viruses.  
  • Preservatives protect products from bacteria, yeasts and fungi.  
  • Pest control products protect you and your home from pests. 
  • Other products, such as those that protect a boat from fouling.
The use of biocidal products is regulated in the EU. Authorities assess the risks of using a biocide before deciding whether to allow the product on the EU market. 
While we rely on some biocides, we could do without others or use less of them. Making informed choices about the biocides we buy and use can help to limit their impact on our health and the environment. 

Look up biocidal products

Pick up a biocide, such as a hand sanitiser, a toilet cleaner or a mosquito repellent, and type its name into the search bar of ECHA’s biocidal products database. You will be able to find out where in the EU the product is authorised, what its main ingredients are and how it can be used safely. You will also have access to the assessment done by national authorities on the product’s possible risks to humans, animals and the environment.

Compare products

The information in ECHA’s database can help you identify products with a more favourable profile for health and the environment. For example, if you want to find the least hazardous disinfectant available, you can run a search with the product-type ‘disinfectant’ and choose up to four products to compare. You will be able to see if any of the products contain an active substance that is considered less hazardous, or if the products contain active substances considered candidates for substitution or any substances of concern. 

If you are interested in buying a mosquito repellent, you can search the database with the term ‘mosquito’ to find the products currently approved on the EU market as mosquito repellents. If you just want to know which products are authorised in your own country, you can search by market area. 

Cannot find a product?

The database contains information on the biocidal products that have been authorised in the EU. If you cannot find a product, it is likely because either the product or the active substance in it is still being assessed by the authorities. All biocidal products and active substances are assessed before they are allowed on the EU market – the exception are products that were on the market before 2000, which can continue to be sold while the active substances are being evaluated.


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