Food and Personal Care Products
Cleaning Products
Furniture and Furnishings
Clothing and Textiles
Leather and Suede
Paints and Coatings
Construction Materials
Wood Products

Microbes can contaminate and break down food and beverages, cosmetics, paints and coatings, building materials, fabrics, furniture, and many more products. Antimicrobial products are critical to ensuring longer shelf lives and protecting buildings and infrastructure from pests and microbial damage.

Food and Personal Care Products

Many packaged foods and personal care products rely on antimicrobials to ensure longer shelf lives. Without the use of antimicrobials, many foods and personal care products are ideal habitats for microbes that can break down products and even pose a health risk to consumers. The judicious use of antimicrobials helps preserve products by inhibiting harmful microbial growth.

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Cleaning Products

Antimicrobials are used as preservatives in many cleaning products.

Antimicrobials are used as preservatives in many cleaning products, preventing microbial contamination of laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dishwashing liquids, and many other home and industrial cleaners. Many cleaning products contain additional antimicrobial products to serve as disinfectants for surfaces, dishes, and laundry.

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Furniture and Furnishings

Antimicrobial material preservatives protect the growth of microbes in the raw materials and finished fabric, furniture, and furnishings. Microbes can contaminate the manufacturing process or break down finished products. Textiles, fibers, adhesives, plastics, inks, and more rely on biocides to prevent damage from microorganisms.

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Clothing and Textiles

Antimicrobial technologies help inhibit microorganism growth in apparel.

Microorganisms love moisture and humidity, making clothes, shoes, and textiles ideal habitats for unwanted microbial growth. These microbes can create unpleasant odors and break down textile products. 

Antimicrobial technologies help inhibit microorganism growth in apparel, footwear, and home and commercial textiles. They’re used in some sportswear, athletic shoes, and home textiles such as shower curtains and table cloths.

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Leather and Suede

Leather manufacture is a complex process that involves numerous steps to unhair, cure and tan hides. Each step in the process requires antimicrobials to prevent spoilage and contamination. After hides are tanned, a fungicide may be required to permit storage in humid or uncontrolled ambient surroundings. Biocides are also important in cleaning and sanitizing the facilities in which hides are processed to ensure worker safety and health.

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Paints and Coatings

Many paints and coatings are treated with in‐can preservatives.

Many paints and coatings are treated with in‐can preservatives, with a smaller amount treated with dry‐film preservatives. 

Latex paint, in particular, could not exist without the use of biocides as in‐can preservatives. The latex emulsions and aqueous bases used to manufacture latex paints provide the perfect combination of food and water essential for microbial growth. Without biocides, latex paints would fail in storage, typically presenting a loss of viscosity, malodor and product breakdown. Untreated latex paint formulations can produce sufficient microorganism growth generating gases that can potentially cause container failure. Container ruptures occur as gas pressures generated from fungal or other growth increase beyond the ability of the container to contain the pressure. Antimicrobial preservatives therefore are crucial not just to product preservation, but to product safety.

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Construction Materials

Recent air quality regulations have restricted the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in many construction related products. As VOCs are replaced with water-based solutions, products have become more prone to contamination from bacteria, yeasts and fungi because microbes flourish in wet environments.  Biocides therefore have become even more important to preserve most critical building materials, including concrete, wood, drywall, and asphalt shingles. 

Many construction projects involve concrete additives or admixtures, which rely heavily on biocidal products. For example, because lignosulfonate solutions (used as plasticizers in making concrete) are highly susceptible to bacterial and yeast contamination, it is not uncommon for inadequately protected drums of this material to explode as a result of carbon dioxide build‐up from yeast fermentation. Preservation with appropriate biocides inhibits this build‐up, protecting product integrity and worker safety.  

Preservation with biocides also prevents the early failure of many construction materials while in service.  For example, in the southeastern U.S., high heat and humidity much of the year take their toll on many building materials, especially roofing shingles. However, by incorporating biocides during manufacture produces, shingles maintain their appearance and integrity for significantly longer periods of time than those left untreated.  Extending the useful life of these products not only helps conserve manufacturing resources and energy, but also plays decreases waste streams destined for landfills.  Biocide use is essential in reducing unnecessary construction materials’ deterioration and waste generation.

Numerous other aqueous‐based compounds used for construction—such as sealants, moisture barriers, joint compounds, caulks, fillers, grouts, construction adhesives, surface preparations, water‐proofing compounds, degreasers, cleaners, coatings and dyes—rely on biocides for in‐can preservation. While biocides constitute some of the smallest inputs to the manufacture of construction materials, their value is enormous.

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Wood Products

Wood preservatives help to extend the life of wood products.

The unique characteristics and abundance of wood make it a natural material for the construction of homes and other structures.  Wood is flexible, durable, and easy to work with, and it is a renewable resource. However, wood left exposed to the outdoor environment is subject to degradation by a variety of natural causes. 

The use of wood preservatives to extend the life of wood products has been accepted practice in the United States for more than 100 years. While some wood is decay‐resistant, the most commonly used wood species (which also tends to be the fastest growing, and, therefore, most sustainable) possess little natural decay resistance. 

Biocides can prevent decay, and typically, treated wood products offer service lives of 20 years or more. Longer lasting wood products contribute to sustainability by reducing the demand on forests and requiring less frequent transport of materials.

Wood preservatives protect wood against decay in residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial applications. Biocides are used to control sapstain, mold and fungi on freshly sawn and seasoned logs, poles, posts and lumber; offer resistance to mold, termites and fungal decay for framing material such as lumber, plywood, wood I-beams, trusses and other wood products intended for interior uses; are added to glueline-based technologies to protect engineered wood products from rot and decay; and protect wood used in projects such as decks, docks, fences, framing, siding, and millwork.

In addition to building structures and accessories, treated wood products are essential to telephone and electronic transmission, railroads, marine structures, and highway and other infrastructure functions. Treated wood continues to serve as the material of choice for utility poles, cross‐ties and related structures. There were approximately 160 million to 180 million wood utility poles in service in 2011 in the U. S, with enormous quantities of poles installed in the 1950’s still being in service today. These industries do not see any viable alternatives to treated wood poles and railroad ties for the vast majority of their needs.

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