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)