Possible underestimations of risks for the environment due to unregulated emissions of biocides from households to wastewater

The aim of this study was to investigate the role of household products as possible sources of biocidal active substances in municipal wastewater and their regulation under the Biocidal Products Regulation (EU) 528/2012. In 131 households, the authors investigated the prevalence of products used to control pests, washing and cleaning agents and select personal care products with high release to wastewater. Inventories of these products were established with the help of barcode scanning. All uses of biocidal active substances were evaluated regarding their assessment under the Biocidal Products Regulation. 2963 products were scanned in total, with 48% being washing and cleaning agents, 43% personal care products and 9% products used to control pests. Biocidal active substances were found in each household. These were observed primarily in washing and cleaning agents and personal care products (90%), while only a small percentage of the observations of biocidal active substances was in biocidal products. 64% of the observations of biocidal active substances were in applications that do not fall under the Biocidal Products Regulation and are thus not subject to its environmental risk assessment. This study shows clearly that risks for the environment are underestimated because unregulated emissions to wastewater occur. It demonstrates that there are gaps in the current chemical legislation that lead to a release of substances into wastewater that were not subject to environmental risk assessment under the Biocidal Products Regulation. This is one example of the limitations of scientific risk assessment of chemicals – its complexity is immense. The authors concluded that the results underline the importance of a sustainable use of the substances as this is the only way to decrease yet unidentified risks.

Authors: Wieck S, Olsson O, Kümmerer K. ;Full Source: Environment International. 2016 Sep; 94:695-705. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.07.007. Epub 2016 Jul 19. ;