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According to European biocide legislation, pest control products require assessment and authorization by the responsible national or European authorities. Biocidal products can only be authorized if they have no unacceptable effects on human health. The health risk assessment performed for authorization comprises (a) the derivation of reference values for the active substances and substances of concern contained in the biocidal product and (b) an exposure assessment. These parameters are required for risk characterization. No unacceptable health risks are expected if the determined exposure is less than the relevant reference value. In addition, the toxicological information is used for classification of the biocidal product. The assessment may, where necessary, result in specific conditions for use or other restrictions aimed at minimizing risk. The risk to human health from pest control products is mainly based on the toxicological properties of their active substances. Commonly, the coformulants used in pest control products are of less concern than the active substances (e.g., food ingredients and animal feed products). For example, most rodenticides belong to the group of anticoagulants, which are also effective in humans. Regarding intoxications through insecticides, the group of pyrethroids is of particular importance. Fumigants containing metal phosphides, hydrogen cyanide, or sulfuryl difluoride are particularly toxic. This toxicity is linked to the high acute inhalation toxicity of the gaseous active substances themselves or, in the case of phosphides, of the released gas phosphane. The aim of health risk assessment for the authorization of biocidal products is to ensure their safe application for users and all other persons involved, assuming an adequate and label-compliant use.


C Pieper, D Holthenrich, H Schneider. Health risks from pest control products]. Bundesgesundheitsblatt, Gesundheitsforschung, Gesundheitsschutz. 2014 May;57(5):574-84

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PMID: 24781915

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