MEPs push for greater safety of pest control products 

Banning products dangerous to health ©BELGA_PHOTONONSTOP  

On Wednesday MEPs will discuss tighter rules for pest control products introducing stricter health and environment checks on "biocides", whilst making approval for marketing more efficient. MEPs will vote on a provisional deal negotiated with the Council on Thursday.

What are biocides?

Biocidal products are used to protect human and animal health against harmful pests and bacteria and include household products like disinfectants, repellents and insecticides.

They can be also used in industrial applications including wood and material preservatives, anti-fouling paints for ships, and embalming products to avoid damage to natural or manufactured products.

However, they may pose health risks and be harmful to the environment, which is the reason 1998 legislation is being updated to ensure only biocidal products safe for use are placed on the market.

Aim to streamline decisions

The aim is also to improve the authorisation procedure, streamlining decision-making while further increasing protection.

Some pest control products can be harmful if not used properly, especially for vulnerable people like children or pregnant women. The new rules would mean these products are only used when really necessary and calls for research to find safer alternatives.

What's new?

  • The scope has been extended to cover articles and materials treated with biocidal products, including furniture and textiles

  • Products that are carcinogenic, affect genes or hormones or toxic to reproduction should in principle be banned or restricted, with exceptions only where absolutely necessary: such as safeguarding public health

  • There will be more checks into possible health effects that were unknown previously for example into "endocrine disruptors" affecting hormones and products containing nanomaterials  

  • Mutual recognition of approvals between EU countries will be made easier

  • A new rule on animal testing means companies will have to share research results in exchange for fair compensation

  • More assessments will be done at EU level in future. German Christian Democrat Christa Klass, who is steering the proposals through the EP, said,  "the introduction of a Community authorisation system represents a significant step towards a harmonised European market for biocidal products"