Anybody with a passing understanding of Greek and Latin should be horrified that there are substances such as biocides. Biocides, after all, means “things that kill life” – things that could kill “us”. Fortunately, as a functional term, biocides more frequently refer to antimicrobial agents, though they also include things like insecticides, repellants, and poisons for rats and the like.
While their medical applications are the most obvious, consumer and industrial usages comprise a surprisingly broad market for biocides. They are added to shampoos and body washes to prevent molds from growing in the moist confines of a bottle of shampoo; they are added to animal feed to prevent spoilage; they are also used to prevent algae growth in process water. Some of the most recent advances in plastics have been to incorporate antimicrobial agents into the plastic itself, meaning that any item made from it is resistant to microbes.
Because these agents are so pervasive, a lot of thought must be put into their safety and efficacy. Legislation to control the use of biocides can be very involved as the risk-reward balance is not always clear.
The rampant use of antibiotics, for example, has led to the rise of “superbugs” – a bacteria that is resistant to every antibiotic currently available in the medical arsenal – at a frequency that should be worrying. Fortunately, it is also true that smart regulations regarding their use can limit the spread of antibiotic resistance. The Dutch have one of the lowest rates of antibiotic resistance in the world, thanks to a comprehensive approach designed to minimize the use of antibiotics.
General biocides, such as bleach, alcohol, and iodine do not engender antibiotic resistance. These substances are so disruptive on a cellular level that nothing can survive it. Chlorine, or more accurately hypochlorous acid, is just hydrophobic enough to pass through cell walls, but also reactive enough to disrupt protein structure and function – all proteins. Because these products affect everything, these substances can also be dangerous to people and the environment; therefore they also need to be regulated in order to prevent inadvertently poisoning ourselves or the world around us.
The Sirius Effect:
Sirius promotes the use of environmentally-friendly chemicals whenever possible. For example, our Britebleach SPC, when combined with an activator such as Britebleach TAED, generates peroxy acids that are not only very effective against bacteria, but quickly convert to water, acetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and oxygen. We have a great team who not only understands the European Biocide Product Rules, but are always ready to advise you. Do you have questions? We have answers.