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How the EPA Approves Disinfectants for Use During a Pandemic

By Jenny Pavlovsky, Regulatory Manager, Ecolab Life Sciences

Ecolab | Handwashing Insights from COVID-19

All U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered antimicrobial products are required to undergo a rigorous science-based review of data. This includes items such as the efficacy to support the claims and directions for use on the label, as well as meet specific performance standards in order to make public health claims. However, during an outbreak of a new virus, no products exist on the market that can make claims to kill the virus. This is because it can take up to a year or more to get a viral claim approved through the standard registration process.

Identifying and addressing pathogens that either newly appeared or are rapidly spreading or increasing in severity is a constant focus for the Centres for Disease Control (CDC). Once the CDC has identified an emerging pathogen and has recommended environmental surface disinfection to control its spread, the EPA may activate the Emerging Viral Pathogen (EVP) policy to help identify and approve disinfectants that prove effective against similar pathogens. 

The EVP policy is a voluntary, two stage process to register or make an amendment to an eligible product with emerging pathogen claims. The EVP policy allows disinfectant manufacturers to apply for the ability to make an EVP claim in advance of, or during, an outbreak based upon specific criteria. In the case of an EVP claim, additional data must also be submitted which demonstrates a product’s ability to inactivate a virus which is considered more resistant than the virus which is the cause of the current outbreak. In regards to our current pandemic, coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, making them one of the easiest viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant.

The EPA has published a listing of all products for which EVP claims had been sought and approved for use during the COVID-19 outbreak. This published listing is available by clicking here and is referred to as List N. Since the initial publication of this list, the EPA has expanded product eligibility for inclusion to include products that have demonstrated efficacy against another human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2 and products that are approved for use against viruses that are harder to kill than SARS-CoV-2, such as norovirus. The EPA expects all products on List N to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 when used according to label directions.

Ecolab has a large offering of products on List N that are suitable for Healthcare, Institutional, and Life Sciences uses. Specifically, our Life Sciences products include Klercide 70/30 IPA, Klercide Active Chlorine, Oxonia Active and COSA™ Oxonia Active and Bioquell Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide. Working with suppliers, like Ecolab Life Sciences, who have Regulatory and R&D teams that actively work with the EPA on policies like the EVP is one easy step to take for additional reassurance that your supplier, and the products they offer, will continue to meet your needs as cleaning and disinfection requirements continue to evolve.

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