A biocidal product is one which controls harmful or unwanted organisms through chemical or biological means. Common examples of such products are disinfectants, wood preservatives and insect repellents.

Biocides are used by workers in a wide variety of industries to control organisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi insects and animals. They can also be used by members of the public. We are all likely to come into contact with biocides, or products that have been treated with them – whether in the workplace, shops or leisure premises, or in our own homes and gardens. If you think you have been affected by exposure to biocides, you should consider reporting your exposure.

It is important that there are safeguards to ensure that products containing biocides can be used safely and at a level which minimises any detrimental effects on the environment. HSE – as the UK Competent Authority for biocides – runs two regulatory schemes that assess the safety of such products and the active substances within them, and puts conditions on the use of these products. These schemes are the Biocidal Products Regulations and the Control of Pesticides Regulations.

The Biocidal Products Regulations (BPR) and Biocidal Products Regulations (Northern Ireland) (BPR NI) implemented the European-wide scheme (the Biocidal Products Directive 98/8/EEC) that covers a very diverse group of products, including disinfectants, pest control products and preservatives.

From the 1st September 2013 the BPD will be revoked and replaced by the directly acting EU Biocides Regulation (528/2012) and therefore the BPR/BPR NI will also be revoked.

Biocidal products and active substances fall into 4 categories and 23 product-types which are all regulated under the Biocidal Products Directive. The substances have to be authorized before being used or sold on the EU market. Also, all treated products shall only contain authorized active substances. To be authorized, manufacturers or importers need to submit technical documentation on the products.

The biocides used in Unico janitorial cleaning products are not yet on the registered list for the product types. An expected listing date has not been announced but once listed a dossier for each biocide and its expected uses will have to be submitted to register the formulations.

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