Biocides and Fungicides Update

By Kerry Pianoforte | September 11, 2006

While they represent a small portion of the overall formulation, biocides are critical to the function of paint and coatings.

While they represent a small portion of the overall formulation, biocides are critical to the function of paint and coatings.

Although representing a relatively small part of a coatings' overall ingredient mix, biocides and fungicides are critical to the successful formulation of paint and coatings.

"Biocides can help alleviate the threat of microbes by protecting product from manufacturing and storage to the actual application of the product," said Liam Doherty, global marketing manager, paint and coatings, Dow. "While just a small portion of the overall formulation, it is critical to consider biocides early in the formulation process."

Although the impending regulations in Europe and North America still present formidable challenges to the biocides market, the trend towards lower VOC, water-based coatings has been an impetus for growth in the biocides market.

"The continued move to waterborne paints will be a strong driver for biocides growth because water-based paints are more susceptible to microbial attack," said Doherty. "Also, regulatory legislation will continue to require the phasing out of specific actives, boosting growth for replacement actives."

"The key driver for the current growth of biocides sales is the continuously growing demand for waterborne products for the paint and coatings industries," said Oliver Kretschik, marketing manager, industrial preservation, Lanxess Corp. "As the demand for these low VOC solvent products increases, the demand for biocides increases."

"Paints and coatings are a fairly mature market," said Ray Fahmy, manager, North America marketing, biocides, International Specialty Products (ISP). "Growth in biocides, fungicides and algaecides has been driven by the need for zero-VOC products as part of a constant effort to reduce VOC levels in paints and coatings. Above-average growth is also expected in greener biocides."

Another key issue in the growth of biocides' use is growing consumer awareness of the detrimental effects of mold. This has led to an increase in the number of anti-microbial coating products.

"Mold and indoor air quality are definitely in the forefront of people's minds," said Mark Kenline, global business director, Arch Chemicals. "There is an increased interest in paints which prevent mold. We have seen an increasing interest in companies formulating coatings specific for this market and we expect it to continue to grow."

"Demand is growing for the paint and coatings industry to develop after-market remediation products," said Fahmy. "Many of these products are currently based on silver chemistry, due to consumers' already existing awareness of the benefits of silver."

"As more people become aware of the detrimental effects of mold, hopefully they will also become aware of the protection biocides offer many products, and realize the need for biocidal and preservative products," said Kretschik.

EU BPD Remains Major Challenge

Although the increased demand for water-based and anti-microbial paint and coatings is good news, impending environmental regulations in North America and especially the European Biocide Products Directive (BPD) continue to present challenges for suppliers of biocides.

"The stricter environmental regulations in Europe and North America have had several impacts on the biocides business," said Fahmy. "In North America, the drive has been towards low/zero-VOC and low-odor biocides, coupled with a push towards greener biocides. This is driven largely by a growing consumer demand for green construction products."

According to Fahmy, in Europe, the BPD has had a slightly different impact. This includes the consolidation of biocide market offerings, in the form of blends due to the cost associated with supporting each formulation. In addition, the BPD has resulted in the elimination of certain active ingredients that, due to their toxicity profile, will not make it through the BPD evaluation process. "The final results will be fewer formulated blends available on the market utilizing fewer actives," he added.

"Change in the biocide industry is almost always driven by the regulatory bodies, either due to the biocides persistence in the environment, risk to human exposure or contribution to indoor air quality," said Kenline.

As a result of these regulatory challenges, there have been very few new actives registered over the last ten years in the U.S. "I believe Arch Chemicals, Inc. was the last company to get an EPA registration for a new active for non-crop protection applications," said Kenline. "This active is sold under our Vanquish trade name, and has had excellent acceptance in the caulks, sealants and plastics markets."

As a consequence of these increasingly stringent regulations, the short list of compliant actives continues to shrink. Companies are now using various combinations of actives, whose blends are difficult to maintain due to the need for public disclosure and the costs associated with registration.

"We have seen continued pressure on older actives in Europe as they are preparing for the BPD and the harmonization of regulatory bodies in the member states," said Kenline. "With these pending changes, there will be fewer actives to formulate within Europe. This is a market where many biocide companies depend on proprietary blends. These blends will become more difficult to maintain with public disclosures of content and cost to register. In North America the trend is linked to indoor air quality, either as a paint which deters the growth of mold in high moisture environments or the lowering of the volatile organic contents in paint, which have been linked to health concerns."

"Not much has changed since the BPD was brought into being. The cost and timeliness of registering new biocides is still very restrictive, causing less and less biocide products, both actives and blends, to be created and brought to market," said Doherty. "Regulatory expertise is now a critical factor for biocides producers, as it is key to helping customers streamline the regulatory compliance process and ensure the success of their products."

"The increasingly strict environmental regulations in North America and Europe will decrease the number of available active ingredients," agreed Kretschik. "As it will become more difficult to register new actives, there will be an increase in combination products offered by biocide suppliers. In addition, stricter environmental regulations have led to the reinvestigation of neglected molecules. It may be more difficult to provide the level of protection that people need, as less actives are available."

"Many of the products being launched in the U.S. market are blends with older technologies, as price pressure and competition increases," said Kenline. "This is a disappointment for the paint industry to see actives which are under regulatory pressure in Europe, due to legitimate environmental and health concerns, sold here in the U.S. as 'new' actives."

"The testing involved in registration of new biocides can be very costly, and we are continually looking at alternate ways to help meet our customers' biocide needs," said Doherty. "We are working more closely with customers to determine creative treatment options for their individual needs. We are using our proprietary Taunovate high-throughput microbiological testing technology to determine their precise microbial challenges, so we can customize the best and most cost-effective solutions. In addition, we are creating biocide combinations that deliver a broad spectrum of antimicrobial benefits, and help combat the shortcoming often experienced when using a single biocide."

Product Offerings

Biocides suppliers are working to keep up with regulations by providing combination products that offer both compliance and performance for a variety of low VOC and water-based coatings.

Arch Chemicals, Inc. offers its patented ZOE technology based on zinc pyrithione which is an effective 3-in-1 product.

"The product provides fungicide, algaecide and bactericide protection," said Kenline. "We have had continued success with this technology across the globe and acceptance with the major paint producers. Our Proxel AQ antimicrobial is a new zero VOC formulation based on benzisothiazolin and has just received California EPA approval. Both of these products are well positioned not only for today's regulatory environment but will serve the industry well for many years."

Dow Biocides is adding molecules to its portfolio to help its customers meet microbial challenges.

"Last year we added BIT to our product family and recently added CMIT/MIT. This resulted in a number of new products, including Canguard CM14 preservative and Canguard CM1P5 preservative," said Doherty. "The introduction of these new molecules allows Dow Biocides to offer a complete solutions package for in-can preservation and hygiene control."

According to Doherty, both products are broad spectrum, non-formaldehyde biocides developed for the complete protection of industrial water-based products against bacteria, yeast and fungi. "They are effective in preserving polymer latex and emulsion systems, water-based paints, coatings, mineral slurries and specialty pigments. The new products are currently available in Asia and Europe. They will be introduced into other regions as regulatory approvals are received," he noted.

ISP has introduced a number of new products including Fungitrol 920 fungicides and Nuosept 498 in-can preservative. Fungitrol 920 is a water-based dry-film fungicide for water-based paints and coatings, Nuosept 498 is a water-based in-can preservative for paints and coatings. According to Fahmy, both products are highly cost-effective, are made from greener chemistry, making both products zero-VOC, free from formaldehyde, phenolics, heavy metals and halogens, and are non-flammable. In addition, they are water-carrier systems and have a nearly neutral pH (5.0-6.0). Their chemistry is proven and globally accepted and both perform efficiently at low dosages.

Lanxess has pending registrations for products in North America and new combination products in Europe.

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