Saturday, 25 September 2010

Killing Pests while Safeguarding Public and Environmental Health

The European Parliament is in full swing again and one of the first issues discussed by the members of Parliament is biocides.

Biocides are chemicals used to kill living organisms. Strictly speaking field pesticides are also biocides but the EU tackles agricultural pesticides on their own and hence the chemicals being discussed as biocides include those which are commonly found in our homes and include the following:
  • Disinfectants such as human hygiene products, private area and public health area disinfectants (such as chemicals used for swimming pools, toilets etc.), veterinary hygiene products, food disinfectants and drinking water disinfectants.
  • Preservatives which are used to kill microbes to increase the product’s shelf-life, film preservatives, wood preservatives, fiber and leather preservatives, masonry preservatives, food and others.
  • Pest control: those used for the control of rats, birds, mollusks (such as snails), fish, insects etc.
  • Others such as antifouling products (applied to sea vessels etc. to prevent the growth and settling of organisms from growing) and embalming fluids.

The European Parliament voted on a draft legislation that would see the strengthening of health and environmental protection.
Some harmful substances which cause cancer area already banned from the EU. Now, persistent, bioaccumulative or toxic substances should also be restricted through this vote.
Products treated with biocides (such as furniture which is sprayed with chemicals to prevent the settling of mould) will now also be included under the new rules. Special safety checks and labeling for products that contain nanoparticles were also agreed on.

This vote also set the scene for the sharing of data between companies in exchange for fair compensation to avoid duplication of tests on animals.

Some organizations argued that the restrictions on such products are not as strict as those for pesticides and other chemicals in the EU and this might be the case. But slowly we are seeing these chemicals so prevalent in our homes being regulated to pose less of a health and environmental risk. We are being continuously exposed to such chemicals and such regulations are commended. One hopes that this is the first of a series of regulations to ensure human and environmental health is safeguarded.

All five Maltese MEPs voted in favor of these rules.

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