Reporting exposure to biocides
When people, animals or the environment are affected by exposure to biocides in the UK, it should be reported to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible.
Information from reported incidents can help HSE identify unforeseen issues and may prompt the reassessment of authorised products to prevent further incidents. Any evidence obtained may also be used to enforce the responsible use of these chemicals.
The first thing you should do is seek appropriate medical advice.
If you think you or your family has been affected by biocides, or you feel unwell or are worried about your health after being exposed to biocides, you should seek immediate medical advice from for example:
- NHS Direct
- NHS walk-in centre
- your GP
If you think your pet, livestock or another animal has been made ill by biocides you should seek immediate veterinary advice.
Try to provide the medical/veterinary staff with as much information as you can about the biocidal product or treatment that you think has affected you or your pet – this will help them to provide the best treatment. Medical professionals can get specialised advice from the National Poisons Information Service.
Please note: members of the public cannot contact the National Poisons Information Service direct.
You should then report the incident to the appropriate authority.
Report to the authorities
It is important to report exposure to biocides when ill health is caused by:
- one-off exposure to a large amount of a biocide – the symptoms in these cases are more likely to be immediate
- long-term repeated exposure to small amounts of a biocide – the symptoms in these cases may be delayed and more difficult to recognise as being caused by exposure to biocides
The table below will help you find out which of the authorities you should report it to.
|Incident or concern
|People – where someone has carried out a biocidal treatment in your home as part of their work eg a professional pest controller
|People – where someone has carried out a biocidal treatment in your home not as part of their work eg yourself, or another member of the general public
|Your local authority
|Your district council
|People – other than the scenarios described above
|Either HSE or your local authority
Depends on the type of place involved
|Either HSENI or your district council,
Depends on the type of place involved
|Animals, including wildlife, livestock and pets/companion animals
|Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme
0800 321 600
0800 80 70 60
|Natural Resources Wales
0300 065 3000
|Scottish Environment Protection Agency
03000 99 66 99
|Northern Ireland Environment Agency
0300 200 7856
Information you should provide
Whichever authority you are reporting to, you should provide them with as much information as you can about the biocidal product or treatment involved, including:
- product name
- active substance
- approval/authorisation number, for example HSE XXXX, GB-YYYY-XXXX or NI-YYYY-XXXX
- when, where and how the exposure happened
- how long the exposure lasted
- whether there were any relevant extreme weather conditions at the time, for example high winds, very hot/cold day
- effects of the exposure, for example a report from a medical/veterinary professional
You should be able to get information about the product from:
- the product label
- the person who carried out the treatment, for example, professional pest controller
- the manufacturer
- the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) – this can be requested from the manufacturer
Don't worry if you can't get all this information – you should still report the incident and just provide as much information as you can.
The information you provide will allow the appropriate authorities to investigate the incident and may:
- lead to enforcement action where there is clear evidence of a breach of the law
- prompt the reassessment of authorised products to prevent further incidents