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EPA Announces Its Continued Efforts to Provide Critical Information on Safe Disinfectant Use During COVID-19 Crisis
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Heather F. Collins, M.S. and Barbara A. Christianson

On April 23, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is continuing efforts to provide critical information on surface disinfectant products that can be used against SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.  EPA states that it now has nearly 400 products that have qualified to be effective against SARS-CoV-2.  EPA also published an overview of its actions and resources related to disinfection against the novel coronavirus.

EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention’s Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn stated that “EPA is dedicated to its mission of protecting human health and we want all Americans to have access to effective and approved surface disinfectant products,” and emphasized “[w]e also want everyone follow the directions on the product so that we can safely use registered disinfectants and provide critical protection to our families.”

EPA in its announcement stressed when using an EPA-registered surface disinfectant, always follow the product’s directions and:

  • Never apply the product to yourself or others.  Do not ingest disinfectant products. This includes never applying any product on List N directly to food;
  • Never mix products unless specified in the use directions. Certain combinations of chemicals will create highly toxic acids or gases;
  • Wash the surface with soap and water before applying disinfectant products if the label mentions pre-cleaning;
  • Follow the contact time listed for your product on List N.  This is the amount of time the surface must remain visibly wet to ensure efficacy against the virus. It can sometimes be several minutes; and
  • Wash your hands after using a disinfectant. This will minimize your exposure to the chemicals in the disinfectant and the pathogen you are trying to kill.

Additional information on EPA’s disinfectant safety messages is available on EPA’s twitter feeds, @EPA and @ChemSafety.  These channels will be updated with new materials throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

EPA states it is also continuing to add additional chemicals to its list of common inert ingredients. These actions are intended to help address supply chain issues for EPA-registered disinfectants and other pesticides. It allows manufacturers of already-registered EPA products to change the source of listed inert ingredients.