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Päivi Jokiniemi and Paul Trouth
Article related to: Biocides
Coming soon: find a biocide with its trade name
At the end of November, ECHA will make more information available on biocides. You will be able to pick up a biocidal product in a shop and type its name into our database. You will know where in Europe its use is authorised, what its main ingredients are and how to use it safely. The aim is to make information on biocides more transparent.
With the help of our public database, it will be easier for companies and consumers to make more informed choices on biocides.
For every biocidal product that has been authorised in the EU area, you will see a map of the countries where the product is authorised to be used. You will also know what its main ingredients are and how to use it safely. As well as this, you will have access to the assessment done by national authorities on each product and information about their risks to humans, animals and the environment.
Karina Kubinakova from ECHA’s dissemination team explains the need for the project. “The aim is to improve transparency on biocides. The main development is the fact that the summary of product characteristics, which companies are required to create for each product, will now be publicly available in our database”.
The summary of product characteristics includes information on the safe use of the products, such as:
- substances in the product and their concentrations;
- product composition;
- the manufacturer of the product;
- the manufacturer of the active substance;
- hazard and precautionary statements;
- the organism the product is targeted at;
- application methods;
- type of packaging; and
- instructions for use.
Find a product with its trade name
In the database, biocidal products will be listed with their trade names. “This means you can pick up a hand sanitiser, a toilet cleaner or a mosquito repellent in a shop and type its name into our database to find the exact product,” Ms Kubinakova says. This will work whether the product’s name is in Spanish, Hungarian, Swedish – or any other EU language.
“You will be able to find the product sold in your country and see its sister products authorised in different EU countries.” This will come in handy if you are, for example, on holiday abroad and need to find a particular product.
Search to find what you need
It will be easier to search for information in the database. You can search for products using, for example, the product-type, the product authorisation holder’s name, or the market area.
|Anita Rynkänen. |
Anita Rynkänen from ECHA’s dissemination team gives examples. “If you are interested in buying a mosquito repellent, you can search our database with “mosquito” to find all the products currently approved on the EU market. If you just want to know which products are authorised in your country, you can then search by Member State.”
A feature that is probably the most helpful to consumers buying biocides is the option to compare products to find less hazardous options.
“If you are interested in finding a disinfectant, you can run a search in our database and then choose several products to compare them. Do any of the products contain an active substance that is considered less hazardous? Or do the products contain substances of concern or those that are considered candidates to be substituted? In this way, you can easily identify products with a more favourable profile for health and the environment,” Ms Rynkänen explains.
Check the current status for active substances
The information on biocidal active substances will also improve. “In one glance, you will easily be able to trace where a substance is in the EU approval system: is it approved or is it still under evaluation by a Member State or waiting for an opinion by the Biocidal Products Committee, or for the final decision by the European Commission?” Ms Rynkänen remarks.
The database currently includes over 300 active substances used in different biocidal product-types.
“With the help of our icons and tooltips, you will also be able to easily identify if a substance is considered less hazardous: it will be marked with a green symbol,” Ms Rynkänen continues.
Limitations and future developments
The public database has information only on those biocidal products that have already been authorised for use in the EU. “This means that you should not worry if a product you search for cannot yet be found,” Ms Kubinakova clarifies.
“The most probable reason for this is that either the product or the active substance in it is still under evaluation by the authorities.”
All biocidal products containing approved active substances are evaluated for safety and efficacy before they are allowed to be sold in the EU, whereas products that were on the market before 2000 can continue to be sold while the authorities are evaluating the active substances they contain.
The interface will continue to see improvements. “We will continue working on making the data more user-friendly. For example, the summaries of product characteristics are currently in PDF format, but we plan to make online versions available in the future,” Ms Rynkänen concludes.
What biocides do
Biocides are products designed to kill unwanted pests or bacteria. To be able to have this effect, they often contain hazardous substances and that is why their use is heavily regulated. Biocides are divided into four groups:
We rely on biocides for many things in our daily lives. For example, we use mosquito repellents to avoid bites, or we disinfect our hands at hospitals to avoid spreading bacteria. While we rely on some biocides, some we can do without or use less of. National and EU authorities weigh the benefits and risks of using these products before deciding whether to allow them on our market.
Interview by Veera Saari
Published on: 20 November 2018
Top image: © ECHA
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Biocidal Products Committee:
26 February-1 March
Committee for Risk Assessment:
Committee for Socio-Economic
18-22 March (tentative)
Management Board meeting:
Member State Committee:
13-17 May (tentative)