Diatomaceous Earth situation now clearer

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Confusion has reigned over the availability and use of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) products for pest control. The good news is that, Pest has once again consulted with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and the situation is now much clearer. The bad news is that getting your hands on stocks of DE product is not going to be easy.
Where are we now?
Since 1 September 2015 the availability of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) products for use as biocides has been severely limited by our old friend Article 95 in the EU Biocides Regulation (known as BPR). 

The purpose of Article 95 is to give some protection to those companies that are prepared to invest in all the research needed to get an active substance through the EU BPR review process. Companies that spend the vast amounts needed to do this can choose which other companies they are prepared to share their data with (if any).

In the case of DE, silicium dioxide (German for silicon dioxide) or Kieselguhr, has been notified as a Type 18 biocide (i.e. an insecticide, acaricide and/or product to control other arthropods) under the EU review process and just one company, Biofa AG, based in Germany, is listed as the Article 95 supplier. Biofa AG is also listed as the company supporting the substance through the EU BPR review.

 DE products
If you’re interested you can you can download the definitive list of active substance Article 95 suppliers from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

This means that under Article 95, the only DE products which can be sold as biocides after midnight on 31 August 2015 are those silicium dioxide/silicon dioxide/Kieselguhr based products made from silicium dioxide/silicon dioxide/Kieselguhr supplied by Biofa.

Readers may recall that here at Pest we laboured long and hard to try to pull together a definitive list of the products affected by Article 95. Why no-one thought to inform us DE products were also caught by Article 95 is one of those mysteries that will probably never be solved!

We understand that other DE product manufacturers are in talks, presumably with Biofa AG, to try to come to some arrangement whereby they can bring new DE biocides to the UK market.

Better news
The better news is that if you do have stocks any DE biocidal products purchased before 1 September 2015 then you can continue to use them. Article 95 is purely concerned with ‘the making available on the market’ i.e. selling products. It says nothing about use.

Indeed because, silicium dioxide (silicon dioxide) or Kieselguhr is still undergoing the EU BPR review process no use-by date has yet been set. If after review the active substance receives a non-approval decision, then all products containing it must be used within 18 months.

However, if it receives a positive approval decision, an official Approval date will be set at EU level. This will be at a date in the future to give companies time to put together applications for country-specific product authorisations. These must be submitted by the official Approval date. If no product authorisation for the products you have in stock is applied for in the UK then you will have 365 days, starting from that official EU active substance Approval date, to use up remaining stocks.

A quick Google search shows that DE has a lot of other uses other than as a biocide. In theory stocks of old products could be relabelled and sold for these other purposes. However, buying any of these and using them as a biocide is definitely illegal so do so at your peril.

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