Which disinfectants should you use to fight COVID-19? EPA is making it easier to figure out

by Brianna Crandall — March 30, 2020 — Since SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is closely related to previously discovered coronaviruses, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken steps in recent weeks to point Americans toward safe, proven tools to combat the COVID-19 epidemic now, before products such as disinfectants have undergone the usual battery of tests against the new virus.

As reported in the FMLink article from February 24, EPA activated the Emerging Viral Pathogen Guidance for Antimicrobial Pesticides (Guidance) in response to the discovery of the novel coronavirus. EPA’s emerging pathogens guidance is only triggered after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “has identified the emerging pathogen and recommended environmental surface disinfection to help control its spread.”

At that time, the EPA guidance enabled companies holding current EPA registrations under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for certain disinfectant products to promote those products “off-label” for use against emerging pathogens such as the COVID-19 coronavirus without waiting for the typical test data.

Expediting emerging viral pathogens claim submissions for labels

On March 9, EPA notified registrants of disinfectants that the agency is expediting the review of submissions from companies requesting to add Emerging Viral Pathogens claims for SARS-CoV-2 to their already-registered surface disinfectant labels. Prioritizing these reviews will help move disinfectants that are effective against the novel coronavirus to the market more quickly, without diminishing the scope of the review to ensure safety and quality of the product.

At this time, only claims for already-registered surface disinfectant products that do not require review of new efficacy data are being expedited.

Expanded list of disinfectants

On March 13, EPA released an expanded list of EPA-registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2. The list contains nearly 200 additional products — including 40 new products that went through the agency’s expedited review process. The agency also made key enhancements to the web-based list to improve its usefulness.

While disinfectant products on this list have not been tested specifically against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, they are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 because they have been tested and proven effective on either a harder-to-kill virus or against another human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2.

The product list has also been updated to include the product’s active ingredient and the amount of time the surface should remain wet to be effective against the given pathogen.

To make the list more consumer friendly, information in the table is now sortable, searchable and printable, and can be easily viewed on a mobile device.

Expediting coronavirus claims on labels and protecting the supply chain

On March 20, the EPA, the Consumer Brands Association and members of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry took a critical step in protecting consumers by establishing expedited processes to help ensure continued manufacturing and accurate information reaches the public about the household cleaning and sanitizing products that Americans and frontline service providers are relying on to protect their families and neighbors from the coronavirus.

EPA and Consumer Brands will work together to advance policies to increase production and keep supply chains moving, including expediting adding claims for effectiveness against the coronavirus to product labels. EPA pointed out the importance of this type of public and private sector collaboration, and Consumer Brands pledged that their companies are doing their best to operate at full capacity for products ranging from disinfectants to hand sanitizers and soap.

The ISSA Tip Sheet from February 18, “Recommendations for USING DISINFECTANTS for the Cleaning and Forensic Restoration Industry in Response to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)” recommends that those who have questions about their favorite disinfectant refer to the manufacturer’s website to see if it has the emerging pathogens claim for the novel coronavirus, and reminds readers from other countries to review the specific requirements and approvals in their own country.

To view the list of EPA-registered disinfectant products, visit the List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 webpage.