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Brussels, 27 January 2011

Environment: Commission asks Czech Republic to update biocides legislation

The European Commission is asking the Czech Republic to update its chemicals legislation by adding acrolein to the list of active substances covered by their legislation in order to meet European requirements. Despite an earlier warning from the Commission, the Czech Republic has not yet added acrolein to its list of active substances which could possibly be used in biocidal products, so on the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, a reasoned opinion is being sent. The Czech Republic has two months to comply with the request. Failing this, the Commission may refer it to the European Court of Justice.

Directive 2010/5/EU requires Member States to include the biocide acrolein as an active substance permitted for slimicides in their national legislation by 31 August 2010. The Czech Republic did not notify the Commission of the relevant implementing legislation before that deadline, so a reasoned opinion is being sent. Biocides can pose risks to human health, so the EU has a strict framework of rules to govern the placing on the market of biocidal products, ensuring a high level of protection for humans, animals and the environment.

Background: Slimicides

Acrolein is a substance used in slimicides, which in turn are a type of biocide. Slimicides use chemical or biological means to prevent the production of slime. Biocides contain active substances that act on or against harmful organisms. As they may present risks to human health or the environment, Member States may only authorize the placing on the market of such products after the appropriate tests have been completed and the product in question has been authorised. The inclusion of an active substance in Annex I of the Biocides Directive is the first step in the procedure which may lead to the authorisation of a product containing such a substance. Member States must add these substances to their national lists of authorised substances, so that producers may then ask for authorisation to put a slimicide containing acrolein on the market.

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