COVID-19 presents a challenge and an opportunity for the biocides industry to assist in maintaining public health.

At last week’s Biocides Symposium, held at the Pesticide Control Division (PRCD) headquarters in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Celbridge, Co. Kildare, the Coronavirus was inevitably a key topic. Hand sanitisers fall under the scope of the Biocidal Products Regulation (EU) No 528/2012, as product type 1 — products “applied on or in contact with human skin or scalps for the primary purpose of disinfecting the skin or scalp”. Many of the active substances used in hand sanitisers are currently regulated under transitional measures, which means that these products can be placed on the market via the simple process of a notification.

The PRCD acknowledged that there have been delays in processing product notifications, but officials said that notifications of products of value in tackling COVID-19 would be prioritised. Moreover, they were looking into the possibility of a so-called Article 55 derogation, under which a competent authority can permit a biocidal product to be placed on the market even if it doesn’t meet the conditions for authorisation. This derogation is allowed if such a measure is necessary because of a danger to public health, and it can last for up to 180 days. The German Federal Agency for Chemicals already has a derogation in place for hand sanitisers containing isopropyl alcohol.

Frequent hand washing with soap and water, or the use of an alcohol-based hand rub if the hands aren’t visibly dirty, is one of the essential steps for protecting yourself from Coronavirus.