Organisms can harm our living environment. Think of viruses, bacteria and fungi, or of mosquitoes, ants and rats. Biocides are products to control these organisms. However, biocides may be harmful for human, animal and environmental health. They are therefore only allowed after extensive testing to ensure that they are safe and work properly.

In practice, it may be that a new organism threatens people's health and there is no time to wait for this whole procedure. Think of the high demand for disinfectants in the outbreak of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It is also possible that no biocide for a certain use, such as the control of rats, can meet the strict requirements. Exceptions are sometimes possible for reasons of public health or the environment. RIVM has devised a methodology to make well-founded considerations for this.

The methodology ensures that the public interest, the risks of the biocide, and available alternatives are properly weighed. For example, it must be carefully examined whether the threat to health or the living environment is so great that the government has to intervene. It must also be ensured that the organisms cannot be tackled in any other way. In addition, careful consideration should be given to whether any risks of the biocide offset the benefits of using it on an exceptional basis.


Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM


1709 kb