A shortage of a widely used chemical could disrupt the global supply chain for disinfectants, inks, household goods, and many other products, according to a multinational chemical and biotechnology company.

A global shortage exists of a chemical used to make an important preservative called 1,2-benzisothiazol-3(2H)-one, or BIT, Stephanie Lee, communications manager for a division of Lonza, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, told Bloomberg Environment Aug. 31. The shortage is affecting all BIT manufacturers, she said.

The shortage apparently stems from trouble sourcing from China an essential ingredient used to make BIT.

The preservative helps prevent microbial and...