The biocides are chemical substances or mixtures of synthetic or natural origin, composed of at least one active substance, capable of destroying, neutralizing or exercising control over any harmful organism by any means other than physical or mechanical action. The action of biocides can be direct, as in the case of chemical biocides (poisons for pests, antibiotics, fungicides), or indirect as with biological biocides (microorganisms that produce substances that attack another organism).
We talk about rodenticides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, pesticides and disinfectants.
There are biocides more effective than others, although some unprofitable remain essential because of their specificity. However, if we think of a good biocide (which may not be enough to combat any organism or pest), it is necessary to seek to meet as many of the following conditions as possible:
- Broad spectrum of activity against organisms to combat or contain.
- Being able to stay active in a wide range of pH, the more extensive the better.
- Be soluble in water.
- High effectiveness at low concentrations, to reduce economic costs of transport, storage and production.
- Compatible with chemical substances or living things present in the process. For example, an herbicide that kills the crops you intend to protect does not work.
- Easy to neutralize after use.
- Low toxicity for humans working with the product and, if possible, for the species in the environment where they are used other than those that are to be eradicated or contained.
This list allows us to understand that there is no perfect biocide for all processes and that pros and cons should be assessed when selecting the one to be used, remembering that human safety should always prevail.
The capacity of the biocides is calculated based on the one presented by the phenol. The phenolic coefficient is the experimental value that is used to estimate the biocidal capacity of a substance or procedure.
All biocides must meet the condition of presenting low or no toxicity to humans. In the case of irradiated food, although that same radiation could be morbid for an exposed human at the same time as the food, the use of sealed rooms and the fact that, after the process, the food is completely safe (it does not emit radiation), allows considering radiation as a biocidal method.
Before being marketed, all active substances that are part of a biocide must be registered in a list of approved active substances. In the European Community, biocides cannot be put up for sale until they have passed the safety tests that allow them to appear in official lists: both in the specific country and in the European Community lists.
In the case of Spain, only biocides that have been registered under the REACH Regulation and have been registered in the official registry of pesticides or biocides of the Ministry of Health are legal.
On the other hand, all biocides must comply with specific labeling requirements for being put on the market, including those included in the CLP regulation. To cite one, the obligation to include the registration number on the labels.
Spanish legislation on the use and commercialization of biocides is in force since September 1, 2013, is included in Regulation (UE) n.º 528/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of May 22, 2012. In that regulation, the biocides are classified into four groups: disinfectants, preservatives, pesticides and other biocides. Each group requires precautions in handling and application, also included in the same regulation.
On the other hand, apart from the four groups of biocides, a tighter classification of products is collected according to their use that allows them to be organized into a total of 22 types of biocidal products.
Tandem HSE can help you legalize your products and prepare the documentation you need to provide so that, in the end, your products are considered legal and can be marketed.