Biocides are applied in order to reter, control or kill harmful and unwanted organisms. They are not used for plant protection. Wood preservatives, disinfectants, rodenticides, textile preservatives or household-insecticides belong to this large family of 23 different product types. Biocides can not only adversely affect harmful organisms but also humans, the environment and endangered species. For instance, active substances can be water toxic, carcinogenic, reproductive toxic or endocrine disruptive. Particularly vulnerable groups like children or pregnant women are threatened by the widely and improper use of hazardous biocides.

PAN Europe activities
PAN Europe raises public awareness and informs consumers, companies and decision makers about the challenges which are accompanied by the market placement, use or disposal of biocides in Europe. We campaign for phasing-out highly hazardous biocides and support non-chemical alternatives in pest management. PAN and its NGO partners are active for the sustainable revision of the EU biocide law (current review of Directive 1998/8/EC). Concerning our latest activities please see PAN Europe's news and PAN's EU-biocide project site coordinated by PAN Germany.

Biocides' market in EU
While agricultural pesticides represent 27 billion euros, the market has been stagnant for 10 years. On the other hand, biocides represent 10-11 billion euros with market growing at 4-5% per annum for the last 15 years and predicted to continue expanding during the next years.

Legal Framework
The Biocides Directive (Directive 98/8/EC on the placing on the market of biocidal products) provides the framework for biocide policy in EU. Directive 91/414/EEC on plant protection products, adopted in 1991, served as a model for the new Directive. The Biocides Directive Directive aims to harmonise the European market for biocidal products and their active substances.

According to the Directive, active substances have to be assessed and the decision on their inclusion into Annex I of the Directive shall be taken at Community level. Comparative assessment will be made at the Community level when an active substance, although in principle acceptable, still causes concern. Inclusion to Annex I may be denied if there are less harmful, suitable substitutes available for the same purpose. Member States shall authorise the biocidal products in accordance with the rules and procedures set in Annex VI of the Directive. They can only authorise products which contain active substances included in Annex I. The producers and formulators responsible for the placing of the market of the biocidal products and their active substances must apply for authorisation and submit all necessary studies and other information needed for the assessments and the decision making. A biocidal product authorised in one Member State shall be authorised upon application also in other Member State unless there are specific grounds to derogate from this principle of mutual recognition.

Types of biocides
There are many different types of biocides, devided in 4 groups and 23 product-types:

MAIN GROUP 1: Disinfectants and general biocidal products
Product-type 1: Human hygiene biocidal products
Product-type 2: Private area and public health area disinfectants and other biocidal products
Product-type 3: Veterinary hygiene biocidal products
Product-type 4: Food and feed area disinfectants
Product-type 5: Drinking water disinfectants

MAIN GROUP 2: Preservatives
Product-type 6: In-can preservatives
Product-type 7: Film preservatives
Product-type 8: Wood preservatives
Product-type 9: Fibre, leather, rubber and polymerised materials preservatives
Product-type 10: Masonry preservatives
Product-type 11: Preservatives for liquid-cooling and processing systems
Product-type 12: Slimicides
Product-type 13: Metalworking-fluid preservatives

MAIN GROUP 3: Pest control
Product-type 14: Rodenticides
Product-type 15: Avicides
Product-type 16: Molluscicides
Product-type 17: Piscicides
Product-type 18: Insecticides, acaricides and products to control other arthropods
Product-type 19: Repellents and attractants

MAIN GROUP 4: Other biocidal products
Product-type 20: Preservatives for food or feedstocks
Product-type 21: Antifouling products
Product-type 22: Embalming and taxidermist fluids
Product-type 23: Control of other vertebrates

Implementation and Review
The first phase of the review program was established in 2000 and determined that producers and formulators had to either identify or notify all existing active substances to the European Chemicals Bureau before 28 March 2002. This deadline was later extended to January 2003, with active substances used in rodenticides or in wood preservatives being assessed first.

The second phase of the review program was established by the Commission Regulation (EC) 2032/2003 and contained: the list of identified existing active substances; the list of notified existing active substances; phase-out periods; the prioritisation of the product types in the review program; the allocation of the Rapporteur Member States for the substances; details on the submission of the dossier, the evaluation and the corresponding procedures.

This Regulation has been amended by Commission Regulation (EC) 1048/2005. This so-called third Review Regulation introduced several amendments, including the concept of essential use and the extension of the deadline for certain substances to 2006.

Table - Evaluation process priority list according to hazard

List Biocides Dossier submission Dossier available for public consultation and comments

wood preservative (8)

rodenticides (14)

28 March 2004 From Jun 2005

insecticides and acaricides (18)

repellents and attractants (19)

molluscicides (16)

antifoulings (21)

30 April 2006 From Jul 2007

human hygiene products (1)

veterinaty hygiene biocides (3)

private and public health care biocides (2)

feed and food disinfectants (4)

drinking water disinfectants (5)

metalworking fluid preservatives (13)

in-can preservatives (6)

31 July 2007 From October 2008

preservatives for films (7)

fibre, rubber and polymerised material preservatives (20)

liquid cooling/processing systems preservatives (11)

embalming and taxidermy fluids (22)

slimicides (12)

avicides (15)

piscicides (17)

other vertebrate control (23)

31 October 2008 From January 2010

Public Participation
In accordance with Article 12 of Regulation (EC) 2032/2003, the competent authority reports concerning the evaluation of active substances in the review programme shall be made publicly available by electronic means, except for information that is to be treated as confidential. The links further down on this page will contain the reports as they become available. Comments can be submitted, preferably within 3 months from the date of publication of the reports, to the following address:

European Commission
Directorate-General Environment
Unit B-4, Office Bu-5, 2-151
B-1049 Brussels
Or by e-mail to: ENV-Biocides [at]

European Commission
European Chemicals Bureau
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Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.