Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

What are pesticides and biocides and who uses them?

What are pesticides and biocides?

Pesticides and biocides are chemicals or organisms used to control pests such as harmful or unwanted animals, plants, fungi, viruses or bacteria which cause damage. Pesticides and biocides include:

  • fungicides
  • insecticides
  • herbicides
  • plant growth regulators
  • rodenticides (rat and mouse poisons)
  • animal and bird repellents
  • mole control products
  • wood and masonry preservatives
  • disinfectants
  • human and veterinary medicines
  • anti-fouling products
  • molluscicides (snail and slug pellets)
  • algaecides
  • earth worm control agents.

Pesticides and biocides can cause significant water pollution and land contamination if there is an accident or they are not used in a responsible way. If they enter surface water or groundwater, even in very small amounts, they can have devastating effects. Pesticides and biocides can harm human health if you do not store and use them properly.

Businesses that use pesticides and biocides include those involved in:

  • agriculture - arable, vegetable and fruit growing, pasture, livestock and poultry
  • aquaculture - fish and shellfish farming (veterinary medicine)
  • forestry and woodland
  • horticulture
  • wood and masonry preservation
  • managing invasive species and removing bracken
  • pest control
  • weed control, eg on pavements, industrial complexes and alongside roads and railways
  • marine anti-fouling paints and coatings
  • gardening and landscaping
  • managing parks and golf courses (amenity sector)
  • food storage and preparation
  • healthcare
  • care of domestic pets.

Further information

Health and Safety Executive (HSE): Biocides information

HSE Chemicals Regulation Directorate: Pesticides information

In this Guideline

What are pesticides and biocides and who uses them?

Supplying pesticides and biocides

Approved pesticide and biocide products and qualifications

Controls on applying pesticides and biocides

Applying pesticides and biocides

Good practice for using pesticides and biocides

Import, supply and sale - Getting approval for pesticides and biocides

Disposing of pesticides and biocides

Dealing with pesticide and biocide spills

Further information on pesticides and biocides

Pesticides and biocides environmental legislation

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