News Releases from Headquarters›Office of the Administrator (AO)
Protecting Children During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
WASHINGTON (October 19, 2020) — As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 50th anniversary celebration, this week, EPA is highlighting the role it plays in keeping children safe in the places where they learn and play. Protecting children’s health has always been an important priority for EPA, and that is especially true during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. As part of the Trump Administration’s efforts to safely reopen American, including our nation’s schools, EPA is continuing to work in close partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states, local governments, and tribes to provide up-to-date information to protect public health as school districts, private schools, and universities develop and implement COVID-19 re-entry plans for their students, staff, and parents.
“There is no higher priority for the Trump Administration than protecting the health and safety of Americans, especially our nation’s most vulnerable, as they head back to school,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA continues to work with our federal partners to provide robust information and tools to help schools and universities properly clean and disinfect surfaces in order to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.”
EPA continues to add products to List N: EPA’s list of disinfectants that are expected to kill SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). When using an EPA-registered disinfectant, follow the label directions for effective use. These directions include, but are not limited to:
- Always follow the product label. This includes following directions regarding the contact time, or the amount of time the surface should be visibly wet.
- The risk disinfectants pose to human health increases if the label is not followed.
- Keep disinfectants out of reach of children. Children should not apply disinfectants, including pre-moistened disinfectant wipes and sprays. While disinfectants are powerful tools for controlling the spread of disease, they may harm children’s health if used or stored incorrectly.
- Only use fogging, fumigation, and wide-area or electrostatic spraying to apply EPA-registered products designed and labeled for use in this way. Unless the pesticide product label specifically includes disinfection directions for these application methods, it may not be effective when applied in these ways.
- Do not apply disinfectants to skin, food or cloth face coverings. Do not mix disinfectants with other chemicals. Use disinfectants only at the concentrations specified in the label directions.
- If an EPA-registered disinfectant from List N is not available, diluted household bleach can be used to disinfect surfaces. Users should closely follow the bleach dilution directions on the CDC’s website, including precautions.
EPA also has guidance related to indoor air quality and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). This guidance includes:
- Increasing ventilation with outdoor air and improved air filtration, in addition to following other CDC guidelines, can help reduce risk from indoor transmission of the virus.
- Ventilation during and after cleaning, for example by opening windows or doors, is helpful in reducing exposure to cleaning products, byproducts and any particles resuspended during cleaning, including those potentially carrying viruses. Sensitive people, including children with asthma, should avoid exposure to cleaning products, which can exacerbate symptoms.
- For information on ventilation while cleaning and disinfecting, visit: https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/coronavirus/ventilation-and-coronavirus-covid-19.
- For information specific to the school setting, visit: https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/iaq-schools/healthy-indoor-environments-schools-plans-practices-and-principles-maintaining-healthy and https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/coronavirus/i-need-disinfect-public-space-store-or-school-whatdo-i-need-know.
Additionally, throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, EPA has worked to support the water sector to ensure that Americans can continue to rely on safe drinking water and critical wastewater services. Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low. Americans can continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual.
For more information on SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and drinking water and waste water, visit: https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-drinking-water-and-wastewater.
EPA continues to expand its knowledge base and available resources on the coronavirus disease to reduce the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). This research will help states, tribes, local, and territorial governments, including public health agencies, guide homeowners, business owners, and workplace managers to reduce the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). For more information, visit: https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/healthresearch/research-covid-19-environment.
For additional EPA resources on SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), visit: https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/coronavirus.
To learn more about EPA’s current initiatives to protect children where they live, learn, and play, please see EPA’s October 2020 brochure Protecting Children’s Environmental Health.
For additional information, visit: https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/children.