Pesticides and biocides

Types of 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 can harm human health if you do not store and use them properly.

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.

What is the difference between pesticides and biocides?

Pesticide is a general term which covers many substances, including biocides.

The main use of pesticides is in the form of plant protection products. Biocides are typically not used on plants or crops.

Examples of pesticides and biocides

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

Common uses of pesticides and biocides

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 management
  • 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 painting and coating
  • gardening and landscaping
  • managing parks and golf courses (amenity sector)
  • food storage and preparation
  • healthcare
  • care of domestic pets