Consumer Exposure to Biocides - Identification of Relevant Sources and Evaluation of Possible Health Effects

Stefan Hahn, Klaus Schneider, Stefan Gartiser, Wolfgang Heger and Inge Mangelsdorf



Products containing biocides are used for a variety of purposes in the home environment. To assess potential health risks, data on products containing biocides were gathered by means of a market survey, exposures were estimated using a worst case scenario approach (screening), the hazard of the active components were evaluated, and a preliminary risk assessment was conducted.



Information on biocide-containing products was collected by on-site research, by an Internet inquiry as well as research into databases and lists of active substances. Twenty active substances were selected for detailed investigation. The products containing these substances were subsequently classified by range of application; typical concentrations were derived. Potential exposures were then estimated using a worst case scenario approach according to the European Commission's Technical Guidance Document on Risk Assessment. Relevant combinations of scenarios and active substances were identified. The toxicological data for these substances were compiled in substance dossiers. For estimating risks, the margins of exposure (MOEs) were determined.



Numerous consumer products were found to contain biocides. However, it appeared that only a limited number of biocidal active substances or groups of biocidal active substances were being used. The lowest MOEs for dermal exposure or exposure by inhalation were obtained for the following scenarios and biocides: indoor pest control using sprays, stickers or evaporators (chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos) and spraying of disinfectants as well as cleaning of surfaces with concentrates (hydrogen peroxide, formaldehyde, glutardialdehyde). The risk from aggregate exposure to individual biocides via different exposure scenarios was higher than the highest single exposure on average by a factor of three. From the 20 biocides assessed 10 had skin-sensitizing properties. The biocides isothiazolinone (mixture of 5 chloro-2-methyl-2H-isothiazolin-3-one and 2-methyl-2H-isothiazolin-3-one, CMI/MI), glutardialdehyde, formaldehyde and chloroacetamide may be present in household products in concentrations which have induced sensitization in experimental studies.



Exposure to biocides from household products may contribute to induction of sensitization in the population. The use of biocides in consumer products should be carefully evaluated. Detailed risk assessments will become available within the framework of the EU Biocides Directive.

Stefan Hahn, Klaus Schneider, Stefan Gartiser, Wolfgang Heger and Inge Mangelsdorf.

Environmental Health 2010, 9:7doi:10.1186/1476-069X-9-7


Published:     3 February 2010  (Note: this is a provisional abstract)


Consumer Exposure to Biocides - Identification of Relevant Sources and Evaluation of Possible Health Effects :  Created on February 8th, 2010.  Last Modified on February 8th, 2010


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· 11 years ago

Does a Quat Cleaner have biocides in it?

February 16th, 2010 | 1:35am Reply
· 11 years ago

Thanks for the question. Yes, without a doubt, a Quat Cleaner contains biocides. A biocide is any chemical product that kills microorganisms.

According to EPA, a biocide is a pesticide. Notable is that many microbe-killing-related or pesticide terms are overlapping.

While not all pesticides are biocides, a number of them are.

Pesticides that may be related because they address the same type of pests include:


Control algae in lakes, canals, swimming pools, water tanks, and other sites.

*Antifouling agents

Kill or repel organisms that attach to underwater surfaces, such as boat bottoms.


Kill microorganisms (such as bacteria and viruses).


Attract pests (for example, to lure an insect or rodent to a trap). (However, food is not considered a pesticide when used as an attractant.)


Biopesticides are certain types of pesticides derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals.


Kill microorganisms.

*Disinfectants and sanitizers*

Kill or inactivate disease-producing microorganisms on inanimate objects.


Kill fungi (including blights, mildews, molds, and rusts).


Produce gas or vapor intended to destroy pests in buildings or soil.


Kill weeds and other plants that grow where they are not wanted.


Kill insects and other arthropods.

*Miticides (also called acaricides)*

Kill mites that feed on plants and animals.

*Microbial pesticides*

Microorganisms that kill, inhibit, or out compete pests, including insects or other microorganisms.


Kill snails and slugs.


Kill nematodes (microscopic, worm-like organisms that feed on plant roots).


Kill eggs of insects and mites.


Biochemicals used to disrupt the mating behavior of insects.


Repel pests, including insects (such as mosquitoes) and birds.


Control mice and other rodents.

February 16th, 2010 | 9:16am Reply

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