Biocide

Definition - What does Biocide mean?

A biocide is a type of chemical or microorganism that can deter, render harmless or exert a controlling effect on harmful organisms by chemical or biological means. They are industrially important as disinfectants, oxidizing agents and preservatives.

Biocides are commonly used in:

  • Medicine
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Industry
  • Anti-fouling agents & disinfectants

Biocides can be either synthetic or natural. They can be a deterrant for corrosion that's biologically induced.

Corrosionpedia explains Biocide

Biocides are used to suppress harmful organisms that can cause damage to natural or manufactured materials. These harmful organisms include pests and germs. Examples of biocidal products are insect repellents, disinfectants and industrial chemicals like anti-fouling paints for ships and material preservatives. Biocidal substances like chlorine are used as a short-life biocide in industrial water treatment and also as a disinfectant in swimming pools. The most important application area of biocides, in quantitative terms, is industrial and public water treatment.

A biocide can be:

  • A pesticide, including:
    • Fungicides
    • Herbicides
    • Insecticides
    • Algicides
    • Molluscicides
    • Miticides
    • Rodenticides

  • An antimicrobial, including:
    • Germicides
    • Antibiotics
    • Antibacterials
    • Antivirals
    • Antifungals
    • Antiprotozoals
    • Antiparasites

Biocides can be added to materials (typically liquids) to protect them against biological infestation and growth. For example, certain types of quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) are added to pool water or industrial water systems to act as an algicide, protecting the water from infestation and growth of algae. Halogenated hydantoin compounds are also used as biocides.

The use of biocides can also have significant adverse effects on the environment. Anti-fouling paints, especially those utilizing organic tin compounds such as TBT, have been shown to have severe and long-lasting impacts on marine ecosystems, and such materials are now banned in many countries for commercial and recreational vessels. Disposal of used or unwanted biocides must be undertaken carefully to avoid serious and potentially long-lasting damage to the environment.

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