Biocides and Fungicides Update

By Kerry Pianoforte | September 19, 2005

In response to limitations placed on the biocides market by the BPD, suppliers focus on biocidal “cocktails.”

Constraints placed by the European Biocidal Products Directive (BPD), set to be completed in 2010, on biocides and fungicides producers have had a profound effect on the coatings market. First and foremost, BPD has severely limited biocide and fungicide makers from bringing new products to market. As a result, the market is expected to experience only modest growth, with certain niche areas expected to fare better.

"The biocide market in general is a mature one that is growing at an average annual rate of three percent, with relatively high barriers for new entrants due to the regulatory requirements," said Ray Fahmy, North American marketing manager, biocides, International Specialty Products. "There are some segments that are experiencing above-average growth such as wood plastics composites and products related to 'sick building syndrome.'"

On a global scale, growth numbers are more promising, fueled by prospects for overall paint  demand in Asia. In addition, an increased push toward waterborne technologies is expected to drive growth.

"We're anticipating growth, in value terms, of about six percent a year for the next five years," said Michael Richardson an analyst at Freedonia Group. "Among the major regions, Asia-Pacific will be strongest, although Latin America and Eastern Europe should be strong. We're forecasting an improvement in the growth rate for coatings production for 2004-2009, compared with 1999-2004. That, coupled with the BPD and other initiatives which will drive the product mix toward 'greener' formulations, will be the main factors contributing to growth."


The increased use of water-based coatings is one bright spot for the biocides market. According to Walt Conti, product development manager, performance chemicals, Buckman Laboratories, "with the push toward more user-friendly coatings, water-based paints for the commercial sector is also increasing substantially. Water-based coatings require in-can protection, which is provided by bactericides and film preservation by fungicides."

"The trend towards lower VOC systems will present new challenges for preservation, as many of these systems are more bio-friendly," agreed Mark Kenline, global business director, Arch Chemicals, Inc.

According to Conti, the costs associated with developing these chemistries are well worth the effort. "Restriction on VOCs and toxicity testing on new chemistries is an expensive endeavor for any company manufacturing biocides," said Conti. "However, novel biocides and fungicides with zero- and low-VOCs and green or safer chemistries will provide great opportunities for those manufacturers vested to that end."

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is another potential area of growth for biocides, according to Kenline of Arch Chemicals. "We have received interest from companies that are in search of solutions to combat mold in their construction products. Other concerns surrounding IAQ include low-VOC paints and interior paints with dry-film protection for high humidity areas such as kitchens and baths. Many paint companies are seeing growth with these products and will continue to expand their products offerings in these areas," he said.


Despite the rays of light offered by some of these niche markets, the unfortunate reality is that upcoming BPD legislation has placed a tremendous strain on the biocides market. In 2000, the first of 23 product types to be reviewed by BPD were wood preservatives and rodenticides. Still left to be scrutinized are in-can and dry film preservatives and marine antifoulants.

"Regulatory constraints have stifled the growth of our industry, and the worst is yet to come, there is no end in sight," said Kevin Ajoku, market segment manager, materials protections products, Lanxess. "Every administration that comes into office strives to instill more and more regulations. These days, Europe is leading the way. By the time the BPD is completed there will be a handful of biocide actives left."

"By 2010, it's thought that a majority of products registered in 2000 will be off the market," agreed Richardson of Freedonia Group.   "However, at least for the coatings market, most of the major products seem pretty safe."  

With a ten-year implementation plan, biocide and fungicide makers have had a decade to develop packages that comply with the directive and phase out biocides that will not make the cut.

"It's hard to say until we've seen a final list, but a lot of actives likely not to survive the cut aren't widely used at this point," said Richardson. "In volume terms, the effect will probably be less severe, as the most widely used products in the U.S. and Western Europe are likely to remain in use. In general, though, the products that survive the process are going to offer the best combination of safety and efficacy."

The staggering cost associated with getting a new active registered and the time it takes have stifled much of the R&D work associated with biocides and fungicides. "Very limited resources are being put into development of new biocides due to the high cost and long lead times for registration," said Kumar Ramanathan, marketing specialist, Ciba Specialty Chemicals. "It typically takes three years to launch a biocide after development, two more years to conduct toxicological testing, and two to three more years to obtain government registrations.

In anticipation of the new legislation, biocides and fungicides producers have had time to tweak their products and the focus has been on using combinations of existing actives, rather than devoting R&D energy on new technologies. The result has been a focus on combination "cocktails" made from existing actives to give users the desired results within the parameters set by environmental legislation.

"The focus is on new formulations to address regulation changes such as labeling and lower VOC content," said Ramanathan. "Biocides such as Carbendazim, Diuron and TBTO are likely to be replaced as regulations evolve. Synergistic cocktails, incorporation of off-patent actives and products registered in other geographic regions are also important market trends."


Suppliers are offering their customers the most effective biocides and fungicides by offering a number of new "combination" products.

Ciba Specialty Chemicals markets Irgarol 1051 and Irgaguard D1071 antifouling biocides for coatings. In 2005, the company launched a silver antimicrobial, Iraguard H6000, and will launch a new antifungal biocide by the end of the year.

Rohm and Haas offers an extensive range of biocides for in-can and film protection. Rocima 350 is the company's latest offering for film protection. It is a water-based combination of DCOIT and IPBC that is effective against fungi and algae. Another new combination product is Rocima 564 for in-can preservation. It contains BIT/MIT with CMI performance booster and is VOC free. It combines the speed of kill of CMI/MIT with the long-term protection of MIT and BIT, according to the company.

Lanxess has also worked to diversify its product offerings. "We believe a broad portfolio of actives is the way to go in this new market," said Ajoku. According to Ajoku, it allows companies "to synergistically combine different chemistries to make one which will be more effective than either one alone. When a product is more effective, you use it less, and by using less it means less goes into the environment, less workers exposure and less expensive for our customers," he said.

ISP offers several new low-VOC and no-VOC, low odor formulations of mildewcides and in-can preservative sold under the Fungitrol and Nuosept trade names.

Arch Chemicals' ZOE offers a zero VOC fungicide/algaecide for dry-film protection For wet-state-preservation, Arch has developed Proxel AQ, a zero VOC formulation with broad efficacy and long-term stability.

Buckman's latest offering is Busan 1144, a bactericide/biocide.

Many biocides producers are dealing with the limitations placed on them by BPD by working closer with their customers to develop customized solutions for their biocides needs.

Dow has developed the capability to develop special tailored solutions using its Taunovate high-throughput testing technology. Taunovate is a protocol that provides the ability to rapidly determine the microbial status of a formation as well as the effectiveness of the biocide product or products being used in it. The improved efficiency and accuracy of this technique works to streamline the biocide specification and treatment processes, improving operational efficiency.

Arch Chemicals offers plant hygiene audits to track the root cause of contamination. "We also optimize the biocide package for our customers' individual formulations and train their new workers on the safe use and handling of these products," said Kenline.

According to Mark Saurin, global marketing manager for paints and coatings, Dow Biocides, "it does not matter if it is North America or Europe, the cost to register new biocides is large now and will remain so in the future." Still, Saurin said, on the positive side, a lot of the changes have allowed Dow to develop custom solutions for its customers."

This has brought the customer and supplier closer together as they need more guidance to meet regulations, according to Saurin. "Over the course of the next few years this will increase. Customers are looking for suppliers that are committed to the market and coming up with innovative solutions. We're offering our existing biocides, but we're looking at more creative ways of using them."

Handle with Care

As with most industrial chemicals, biocides require careful handling to ensure safety and efficacy.

By Robert Sheriff - Atlantic Environmental Inc.

Biocides are important tools for preserving and protecting a wide range of coating products.  Without biocides, bacteria and fungal contamination would compromise even the highest quality products.  Like most industrial chemicals, however, biocides require careful handling to ensure they are used safely and effectively.  

As an industrial hygienist, I am trained to recognize and assess the risks posed by various materials and recommend appropriate health and safety procedures to minimize or eliminate adverse exposures. What follows are some practical recommendations for working with biocides.

The first step for evaluating materials for potential use is to review administrative and engineering controls (e.g., ventilation, handling procedures, etc.) at your facility.  Ideally, such controls will limit and maintain potential exposure to the biocide to acceptable levels. These controls, however, don't mitigate the need for employees to use personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is particularly important in cases where engineering and other administrative controls do not prevent manual handling or sufficiently control exposure.

As the table below indicates, most common biocides require comparable PPE.  Protecting eyes and skin from accidental exposure is common sense with even household materials such as ammonia and bleach. In addition, there are many standard best practices that should be followed, which are listed on product material safety data sheets (MSDS). These best practices include avoiding breathing vapor or mist for liquid products, and avoiding getting the biocide on clothes or skin by wearing impervious clothing, such as chemical resistant aprons. These precautions minimize both the acute and long-term exposure risks.  

Information about the need for PPE is found on the supplier's EPA-registered label.  The table below lists label information for some common coatings biocides registered for in-can and dry film preservative use.

The following questions and answers provide additional information to help you assess how to handle biocides.

What are the key factors to consider when assessing the risk of chemical exposure? There are five key factors to consider.  The critical health effects associated with exposure (e.g., skin, eye and respiratory irritation).  The potential for exposure to the material for its intended use in the manufacturing process. This includes high temperature processes and/or large evaporative surface areas involving the biocide, manual handling operations of the active ingredient, potential for aerosol generation (spraying operations), among other considerations.  The existence and proper function of appropriate engineering controls, such as local exhaust ventilation at the appropriate points of biocide use in the plant.  The manufacturing safety culture in the plant. How evident is the commitment to a safe working environment? An assessment of the potential for accidental discharge/spill and the development of an emergency response action plan.

What are your recommendations to mitigate the risk of chemical exposure to biocides? Minimizing the opportunities for exposure is critical.  Besides the use of the appropriate PPE, plants should also make use of closed handling and dosing systems for biocides.  This eliminates manual handling steps which increase the risk of exposure. (PPE should always be used as a supplement to engineering controls to minimize the risk of exposure.)

What plant practices and employee training have you observed that supports safe handling of chemicals? My recommendations for handling of any biocide include:

• Review the product label and MSDS with plant employees;

• Train plant employees using safe handling information provided by the biocide supplier;

• Use protective eyewear, gloves and a chemical apron;

• Install a safety shower and eyewash station in the area where biocides are handled;

• Store appropriate spill containment and cleanup materials in the area where biocides are handled;

• Follow plant procedures as advised by the biocide supplier; and

• Prepare and train to an emergency action plan in the event of an unplanned release/discharge.

What questions should I be asking my biocides supplier? Your biocides supplier should have the answers to the following questions readily available:  

• Is the product properly registered and is the use in accordance with the EPA label?

• Does the MSDS convey the health and safety information needed to handle the product safely?

• Is chronic and environmental data available?

• What risk assessments have been conducted for the intended end use?

• Is there a workplace exposure limit and air monitoring method for the active ingredient?

• What is the spill clean-up/deactivation procedure?

• What resources are available to train the workers in safe handling (e.g., bulletins, videos, posters)?

• Is the product packaged in a way that minimizes exposure and risk?

• What kind of support can you provide for closed handling and dosing systems?

• Is there an emergency contact in the event of an overexposure or release?

As I look back at what I've seen over the years, I can tell you that the best programs are accented by a culture where education and training are a routine part of workplace practice, and safety is a priority throughout the manufacturing environment. At the end of the day, the best engineering controls and PPE must be complemented by an employee and management commitment and training to handle biocides safely. Handled properly, biocides are valuable tools from which we all benefit.   

Before founding Atlantic Environmental in 1979, Robert E. Sherif worked as corporate manager, safety, industrial hygiene and environment at Sun Chemical Corp.  Atlantic Environment-tal has regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago and Reading, PA. Sheriff is based in Dover, NJ.