Biocidal products are used to control unwanted organisms that are harmful to human or animal health, or that cause damage to human activities. These harmful organisms include pests (e.g. insects, rats or mice) and microorganisms (e.g. moulds or bacteria).

Biocidal products include:

  • insecticides (except those used for plant protection purposes which are regulated by Regulation (EU) No 1107/2009
  • insect repellents
  • disinfectants
  • preservatives for materials such as wood, plastics and fibers
  • anti-fouling paints for the protection of ship hulls.

Biocidal products play an important role in EU citizens' daily lives. For example, insecticides and disinfectants are essential for public health, as they help control:

  • vector-borne diseases (e.g. malaria, dengue fever or chikungunya)
  • food-borne diseases (e.g. salmonellosis, listeriosis)
  • hospital-acquired infections (e.g. MRSA).

They are also widely used in materials such as plastics, paints, textiles, wood, etc. to protect these materials against microbial, fungi or insect decay.

However, because of their intrinsic properties, biocidal products can pose risks to humans, animals and the environment. As a result, the EU has set up strict rules and procedures to ensure a high level of protection for human health, animal health and the environment.

A framework to limit the risks

The EU provides an EU-wide framework and harmonised rules among EU countries to ensure that risks are properly assessed before biocidal products are placed on the market.

Active substances

Before active substances can be used in biocidal products they need to be assessed and approved for such use at EU level.

Biocidal products

To be placed on the market, a product must be shown to be safe for human health, animal health and the environment. The product must also be proven to be effective for its intended uses.

Treated articles

The Regulation contains provisions which apply not only to biocidal products but to all articles that have been treated with, or incorporate, a biocidal product.


The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) provides technical and scientific assistance. It provides for example opinions to support the Commission in carrying out the different processes set out in the Regulation, e.g. approving active substances or authorising biocidal products.