Biocides: Essential Tools that Prevent Harmful Microbial Growth

Even though you can’t see them with the naked eye, microbes are everywhere. In most cases, these tiny microorganisms are harmless and even beneficial. But some of these microbes -- such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses -- pose a risk to public health.

Biocides, also known as “antimicrobials” or “antimicrobial pesticides,” play a crucial role in controlling and stopping the spread of harmful microbes. The public relies on a class of biocides known as disinfectants to kill many disease-causing viruses (like the flu), bacteria (examples include E. coli and salmonella), fungi (such as mold), and other microbes, before they can cause harm. For example, these specialized substances help hospitals prevent the dangerous spread of disease, help restaurants and food processers keep harmful pathogens out of our food, and ensure the safety of our drinking water.

But the benefits of biocides don’t stop there. Biocides also are essential preservatives—they protect a vast array of products from pharmaceuticals to furniture to building materials from destructive microorganisms.

Additionally, biocides are essential in ensuring countless manufacturing and industrial processes are not compromised by microorganism growth. Biocides play a key role in livestock production, oil and gas extraction, marine shipping, and many other processes.