The Silent Treatment

The water leisure market should be vigilant if approached by extremely cheap sources of chemical products.
The water leisure market should be vigilant if approached by extremely cheap sources of chemical products.

The biggest shake up in the history of chemical supply has exploded on to the pool and spa sector with as much impact as a whimpering damp squib. But ignore the new Biocide Product Regulations at your peril.

The compliance clock is loudly ticking for companies who do not conform to the new protocols with the risk of heavy fines. Pool and spa retailers have until June this year to clear unregulated stock from their shelves. Ignorance is not bliss and provides no defence against prosecution. Supplies of core pool and spa water treatment products including copper algaecides, stabilised chlorine granules, stabilised chlorine tablets, calcium hypochlorite and bromine are all affected. All this amid predictions of inevitable price hikes as the new legislation inevitably squeezes supply lines, largely from China.

“It is profoundly shocking that the pool and spa sectors still appear to be blissfully unaware of the impacts of these new rules and regulations,” comments James Lee, managing director of leading chemical supplier, Water Treatment Products. “This is not something that has suddenly appeared around the corner…it has been hurtling up the track like a steam train for many years,” says Lee.

“The trade organisations and educational bodies should have been shouting about this from the rooftops – but have been mystifyingly quiet on the subject,” he adds.

WTP is earmarking £2m over the next five years for BPR across its multiple market sectors including employing an in-house micro-biologist at its Welsh headquarters.

Companies who continue to sell non registered chemical products are risking heavy fines.
Companies who continue to sell non registered chemical products are risking heavy fines.

James Lee comments: “Historically in the water treatment sector, there has been an awful lot of smoke and mirrors about the capability of some chemical products.

“The industry did need cleaning up and yes, the BPR regulations has served to discredit a huge number of suppliers,” he continues. “This legislation offers global monitoring of the quality chemicals available on the marketplace; if a product has gone through BPR; it has undergone rigorous, tests and analysis.

“BPR gives the consumer the confidence that these products do what they are supposed to do.” In fact BPR was adopted to statute law from September 1 having begun its laborious statutory journey in 1998 with ratification in 2006. Water leisure is the latest in a series of sectors including agriculture and paper manufacturing to be impacted by the law.

“It is not an option for us not to conform,” says Jenny Lunn, marketing manager for Brenntag, the largest chemical distributor in the world.

“Brenntag leads the way in global chemical safety and it is of paramount importance that we comply with legislation and set a good example to industry.” The HSE will regulate the BPR within the UK. Import statistics for all biocidal products entering the UK will be checked and followed up. It is also the responsibility of the company or person placing the biocide on the market to ensure compliance, so pool retailers need to ask suppliers for evidence that they are purchasing from BPR/ Article 95 approved sources only.

“I support the BPR where the key objective is to control the use of toxic substances within product formulations and seek out safer, less harmful alternatives,” says Jenny. “The general public is reliant on chemical producers to take a more proactive approach in helping to legislate out harmful chemicals from the supply chain,” she adds.

“It is important that we all play our part for the safety of the end user.” Largely due to the extortionate costs of legislation, the smaller producers are the ones who suffer, as the cost of compliance can sometimes determine whether or not they can continue to offer particular biocides on the market. Leading suppliers have taken the donkey work out of compliance for many pool and spa retailers.

Jenny again: “In the end, the general public will pay more for goods containing biocides as costs are passed down the chain but hopefully they will also be protected in the long term by the ongoing commitment from the European chemical industry to opt for safer active ingredients. I guess it’s a double-edged sword.”