For some time now, biocides and fungicides producers have been focused on the European Biocidal Products Directive (BPD). For them-and ultimately their customers-the calendar may read 2004, but 2010 feels like it's just around the corner.
The cost and man-hours associated with the BPD are equally daunting. Even if a company already has what is considered a complete data package, some industry estimates place the cost of registration in the area of a half-million dollars and two years of manpower (covering paper work, regulations and lab time) per active.
The bottom line, say some, will be fewer actives.
"It is already well documented that the number of biocides supported for the BPD represents roughly one-third of the total number available to paint and coatings companies 10 years ago," said Don Shaw, director of product registration at Troy Corp. "Additional labeling requirements to this group of biocides will further reduce the choices available to paint and coatings producers."
Currently, European regulatory bodies are busy working through the first wave of biocide active substance dossiers for rodenticides and wood preservatives, according to Troy officials. "Forthcoming dossier call-ins for the other biocide product types are expected to significantly reduce the number of available active substances. Some niche markets will not be covered adequately because of lacking market size to cover registration costs," added Eric Bensaid, senior vice president with Troy.
"Increasing regulation and the associated costs could lead to fewer chemistries receiving re-registration in the future," agreed Kevin Ajoku, marketing manager for the industrial preservation segment at Lanxess. "The new focus will be on developing products which are slightly modified or a combination of existing chemistries."
Furthermore, a lack of unity between countries is causing more headaches.
"Worldwide, the number of available biocides and the flexibility to react to special technical requirements are compromised by the review program associated with the European BPD, as well as other regulatory requirement growing in new countries," said Bensaid. "In Europe, many paint and coatings manufacturers are finding it difficult to deal with both an emerging EU regulatory system (BPD) and the implementation of new regulatory schemes in the various member states."
"In an ideal world, the introduction of legislation across the EU would occur at the same time for all chemical substances being regulated," said Shaw. "If so, the industry would be able to compare all products for a similar application in the same way at the same time. Unfortunately, we do not have this luxury. Instead, those materials evaluated first will present a dilemma to the marketplace: they will have the most information available so in theory will be the safest. At the same time, because so much information is available, they will also have the greatest number of R phrases," he said (referring to the European system of labeling the different hazards associated with handling a product.)
Some contend the BPD will also cause a bottleneck in the new product pipeline as companies are likely to stick with their current ingredients rather than invest the time and money into new materials. "The longer-term impact to the industry may be to slow the rate of innovation at paint and coatings manufacturers. If these manufacturers are forced to re-formulate their products more often, they will need to divert resources to testing the re-formulated products. This will mean there is less money available for investment in the development of new, improved product offerings," said Bensaid.
Although the BPD is a major concern for the industry, suppliers are focusing in on other key issues, such as low- and zero-VOC offerings, handling and broad-spectrum activity.
The need for reduced VOC formulations has created much interest in lower-VOC and VOC-free products for in-can and dry film preservatives. Suppliers have been answering the needs of the industry with a number of products.
"Our customers are demanding that we not only meet their VOC requirements, but also provide broad-spectrum protection products that are safer to handle and cost-efficient at the same time," said Bensaid.
After field research revealed that causes of film deterioration varied by geography and what customers had identified as mildew was actually algal growth, in 2001 Troy launched Polyphase 662 and 663 for broad-spectrum protection including algal protection and Polyphase 678 for broad-spectrum fungal protection for interior and exterior coated surfaces. Now, the firm is re-introducing them in a completely VOC-free package.
"As paint and coating producers work to revise their product offerings to meet the tougher VOC regulations that lie ahead, we are able to offer a broad range of water-based, VOC-free products for virtually all applications. Offering multiple VOC-free products gives us the flexibility to provide customers with a product for virtually any need, even in cases in which other formulation ingredients are often problematic," said Bensaid. VOC-free Polyphase dry film preservatives are color and thermally stable materials that are safer to handle and more effective than the materials currently in use, he added.
For in-can preservation, Troy also offers low VOC and zero-VOC-options-Mergal K10N, a zero-VOC BIT product that is free of surfactants and is non-flammable, and Mergal 680, a universal in-can preservative for paint and paint raw materials that provides broad-spectrum protection and low VOC content.
International Specialty Products (ISP) is rolling out new, cost-effective patented Fungitrol and Nuocide fungicide/algaecide combinations for the protection of coating films against defacement. In addition, ISP's patented BIT-based Nuosept 497 and IPBC-based Fungitrol 820 products in zero-VOC carriers have recently been granted EPA registration.
Lanxess-which is currently pursuing EPA registration for a new active to be used in marine antifouling-reports that it is working with several customers to develop pre-formulated and packaged preservatives that are easier and safer to handle.
Rohm and Haas is also tackling handling issues. Its Dosemaster 1000 is a patented portable biocide drum handling system designed to minimize worker exposure to biocides and to improve dosing accuracy.
Rohm and Haas also reports there appears to be greater interest in achieving mildew plus algal protection, driven in part by the trend in building to use less wood and more inorganic substrates where algae can be a problem, according to David Sutton, North American marketing manager for coatings and latex biocides. The firm's Rocima 63 delivers very broad spectrum protection for coatings applied to inorganic substrates. Rohm and Haas also offers Rocima 65 fungicide/algaecide for exterior wood coatings and Rocima 200, a low-VOC, easy to incorporate formulation of the same active ingredient in Rozone 2000.
Many industries are capitalizing on the heightened consumer awareness of the ill effects of mold and mildew.
"Sick home syndrome has a certain amount of mind share with consumers-people are starting to look at things on the label," said Chuck Carncross, vice president of coatings and plastics chemicals at Buckman Laboratories.
"There is growing recognition in the paint and coatings market that preservatives, more than being a necessary cost to protect the product in the can or the dry film, can be used as a means to differentiate the performance of the coating," said Bensaid. "Manufacturers are therefore developing and launching coatings products that take advantage of this consumer education level and demand."
"There is growing recognition in the North American market that in many regions, more than a mildewcide is needed to protect exterior coatings. In this respect, there is growing interest in products that protect against a wide variety of microorganisms including fungi and algae," added Shaw, who said interior coatings and construction materials that have antimicrobial protection are increasing the need for dry film preservatives.
In a mature industry such as paint, being able to provide a level of differentiation can mean increased market share. Paint and coatings makers need to tread lightly when making claims about what a finished paint can do in this area or suffer the consequences.
And although suppliers are a valuable tool and source of information regarding EPA's rules, when it comes to label claims, the buck stops at the paint maker. "We can provide help or guidelines, but the coating manufacturer needs to be comfortable with what's on their label," said Carncross.
Suppliers Coatings World spoke with said it's better to err on the side of caution when it comes to claims.
"For the people who are making claims, if they do it the wrong way, they are getting fined. For the company producing the caulk or coating, they need to be aware of guidelines of what they can or can't say," Carncross said.
"The U.S. EPA has expressed concern over the blurring of the line with regards to claims being made for a number of products. The key area of contention is related to claims offering health-related benefits," said Shaw.
It's a well-known fact that industrial products such as biocides used in paints and coatings are typically not approved by the EPA for health-related uses. EPA's treated articles exemption policy states that a paint maker can claim that its coating is resistant to mildew or mold without needing to obtain its own registration. But claims implying the protection of health require additional EPA review and approval.
"The more difficult case for the EPA to deal with is arising because of the link between mold and asthma or other respiratory diseases in which mold spores exacerbate a pre-existing condition. Eliminating the presence of mold spores does reduce symptoms by eliminating exposure, but this is a different type of 'health claim' than the EPA sees typically," said Bensaid.
Citing the August 2004 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, William Woods, manager, biocides business development, ISP, said, "Despite the fact that a direct link between indoor molds and illness in "normally" healthy individuals is not yet conclusive, we see an increased consumer awareness of the potential health effects of interior molds and a desire to use building components such as paints that resist the growth of molds." Still, companies are taking it slow. "At this juncture we feel coatings manufacturers will continue to conservatively word claims," he added.
According to Troy, the ACC Biocides Panel is discussing these issues with EPA and the topic is being addressed in Europe as well. Through the BPD, the EU has introduced policies that incorporate many principles found in the EPA's treated articles exemption.
And that's good news, according to Shaw. "This type of harmonization is a positive for industry since it provides essentially one set of rules that will govern paint and coating products in a number of geographies," he said.