New EU Biocides Regulation Takes Effect

The European Commission’s new regulation affecting biocidal products took effect July 17, with authorities there saying the rule means significant benefits for human health and the environment. Significant changes from the previous regulation include an expanded scope –- the new regulation covers articles and materials treated with biocidal products, such as furniture treated with wood preservatives, that are imported from third countries –- and a harmonized fee structure in all Member States.

The new regulation also involves the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in the administering the regulation and in scientific evaluation of biocidal products. ECHA expects to eventually have 100 employees engaged in biocides activities.

The regulation requires manufacturers to share data on vertebrate animal studies, as a way of reducing animal tests. A database called the Register for Biocidal Products will be used for submitting applications, recording decisions, and disseminating information to the public.

Affected parties will have to comply with it beginning Sept. 1, 2013.

"This is another step to guarantee a high level of protection for citizens' health and the environment. It is designed to ensure that only safe products are made available and that the most dangerous substances are kept out of our market,” said EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik. “By simplifying authorization, the new regulation will bring considerable economic benefits to European companies."

Biocidal products include disinfectants, rat poisons, insect repellents, anti-mold sprays and paints, water purification tablets, and many other products. They have been subject to EU law since 1998; almost 1,000 products have been authorized to date under the biocidal products directive. The commission estimates the regulation will save industry 2.7 billion euros during the first 10 years is it in place.

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