Disinfectant Use and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
EPA reviews and registers antimicrobial pesticides, which include disinfectants for use on pathogens like SARS-CoV-2, the novel human coronavirus that causes COVID-19. View frequent questions about disinfectants and Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Registering disinfectants in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Ensuring availability of disinfectants
- Taking action against fraudulent products
Registering Disinfectants in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
EPA has been working to ensure that American families, communities, businesses, hospitals, and others are aware of and have access to effective surface disinfectant products to use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
- As part of the Federal Government’s efforts to minimize risks to its citizens, in January 2020 EPA activated—for the first time ever—its Emerging Viral Pathogens Guidance for Antimicrobial Pesticides. Under this guidance, EPA allows manufacturers to provide the agency with data, even in advance of an outbreak, to show their products are effective against harder-to-kill viruses. Once approved, these companies can make marketing claims for use against the novel coronavirus. Read the EPA announcement about activating the Emerging Viral Pathogens Guidance.
- In early March 2020, EPA released its initial List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (List N). This list continues to be updated on a weekly basis. It is searchable and sortable, comes with helpful tips on how to use disinfectants properly, and features frequently asked questions to ensure correct product usage. As with any EPA-registered product, carefully read the label and only use the product as described in its directions.
- Also in March 2020, EPA launched an expedited review process for new Emerging Viral Pathogens Claim Submissions in order to add applicable products to List N as quickly as possible. Read the EPA announcement about expediting emerging viral pathogens claim submissions.
- In May 2020, EPA expanded the expedited review program to include new products as well as amendments to existing product labels that require the review of new efficacy data. Read the EPA announcement about expedited review for Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA) Submissions.
- In July 2020, EPA began to expedite applications to add directions for use with electrostatic sprayers to products intended to kill SARS-CoV-2. Electrostatic spraying has drawn increased interest through the COVID-19 crisis because of the need to disinfect large indoor spaces or areas with many surfaces. Read EPA’s guidance for registrants for adding electrostatic spraying directions to disinfectant product labels.
- In August 2020, EPA issued an emergency exemption to the state of Texas permitting it to allow American Airlines and Total Orthopedics Sports & Spine to use SurfaceWise2, a product with residual efficacy against coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2.
- In October 2020, EPA announced it would expedite applications to add residual efficacy claims to products intended for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). While traditional disinfectants kill viruses and bacteria at the time they are used, residual antimicrobial products kill pathogens that come into contact with previously treated surfaces. Read EPA’s press release on this action.
- In January 2021, EPA issued emergency exemptions to Georgia and Tennessee allowing them to use an air treatment product, Grignard Pure, in health care facilities, intrastate transportation, food processing facilities, and indoor spaces within buildings—including government facilities—where people are conducting activity deemed essential by the state. Read EPA’s press release on this action.
Ensuring Availability of Disinfectants
EPA has partnered with industry to help assure access to the in-demand disinfectant products included on List N. Through close collaboration with disinfectant manufacturers, we’ve identified several ways we can be more flexible to avoid supply chain disruptions without sacrificing public health and environmental protections:
- Companies no longer need to check in with us first before they switch suppliers for certain inert ingredients. Inert ingredients are the inactive ingredients in a disinfectant product—like sodium chloride or glucose. Read the press release about switching supplies for certain inert ingredients.
- Manufacturers of products appearing on List N are temporarily allowed to switch suppliers of certain active ingredients without waiting for EPA’s approval. These active ingredients include citric acid or ethanol. Read the press release about switching supplies for certain active ingredients.
- To ensure that List N is updated as quickly as possible with new products from manufacturers who are not currently registered with EPA, we have expedited all requests for company numbers and establishment numbers. Read the press release to learn more about expediting company numbers and establishment number requests.
- In response to reports of shortages of active ingredients used in the surface disinfectants that are effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, EPA is temporarily allowing registrants to notify EPA of certain formulation and manufacturing facility changes and immediately release the product for sale without waiting for EPA approval. Read the press release about EPA’s efforts to reduce shortages.
Taking Action Against Fraudulent Products
Consumers should beware of imposter disinfectant products that are being marketed online with potentially dangerous claims of protection against the novel coronavirus. EPA is working the Department of Justice and other federal agencies to bring the full force of the law against those selling fraudulent or unregistered products. Read the press release about the EPA Administrator’s call with major retailers and third-party marketplaces to ensure that only approved disinfectant products are available for sale.
Compliance Advisory: What You Need to Know Regarding Products Making Claims to Kill the Coronavirus Causing COVID-19
The purpose of the Compliance Advisory is to address concerns related to products being used to disinfect surfaces which include claims to kill and/or be effective against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19. For some of these products, those claims have not been reviewed or accepted by EPA and, therefore, may present a risk to consumers, and healthcare providers in particular.