How does one write a column in such a time of uncertainty and concern? We now know more about the coronavirus pandemic than we did a week ago. Although it has not disappeared, we must go on. There will be a good future for the world and our industry. For now, though, the pest control industry is on the front lines — this time not fighting mosquitoes or termites, but fighting to protect lives from COVID-19.
The pest control industry has really stepped up, at times putting lives on the line to protect the future of this great country. The enemy today is not visible, and is not easily intercepted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken the lead in the fight against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It is a delicate virus except in optimal conditions — and sadly, those conditions are found in humans. Besides spreading quickly, the fatality rate currently is considered to be about 20 times that of seasonal flu.
Companies wonder how to disinfect the homes and businesses of their customers. An important first step is to select a product effective against SARS-CoV-2. The Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC) of the American Chemistry Council assembled a list of brand name products in February, and updates it frequently at AmericanChemistry.com/Novel-Coronavirus-Fighting-Products-List.pdf.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also assembled List N: Products with Emerging Viral Pathogens AND Human Coronavirus claims for use against SARS-CoV-2. Because many products have multiple brand names, when considering a product compare the registration number on the label against List N. If it is not on the list, the product is not approved for use against emerging viral pathogens or human coronavirus. Products that meet either requirement are included on List N, which is available online at EPA.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.
If a product is not on the CBC list or the EPA’s List N, it cannot be expected to control SARS-CoV-2. Custom-made home brews are unacceptable. Also, it is concerning that people who are not in the pest management industry might sell or apply unregistered products not on the lists. The coronavirus pandemic is a public health crisis, and we as an industry need to do everything we can to report such activities to regulators.
Some states require a special license category, but commonly, general pest management certification categories apply. A few states require a special antimicrobial certification category, usually in reaction to untrained and unlicensed entities offering remediation services after catastrophic floods. At this time, most states have canceled testing activities temporarily, so obtaining a new certification quickly is not possible. In those states, some emergency action may need to be taken. It is best to check with the state agency that licenses or certifies pest management professionals (PMPs).
Read more COVID-19 coverage here: MyPMP.net/COVID-19
It’s worth noting that in 1942, PMP Hall of Famer Bill Buettner (Class of 1998), founder of what is now the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), worked tirelessly in Washington, D.C., to have our industry designated as essential and thus exempt from certain wartime restrictions, including gas rations and even draft consideration if a person was considered key to the pest control firm.
As the late PMP Hall of Famer Dr. John Osmun (Class of 1997) said in his PMP Hall of Fame profile of Buettner, “That’s really what kept the pest control industry going through World War II, because the right people were allowed to remain in place and do their job.”
Today, nearly 80 years later, the pest management industry is again designated an essential service industry, as we are protectors of food, health, property and the environment.
Providing vital services, even when selflessly endangering ourselves for the greater cause, is a tradition in the pest control industry. It is in our blood. Be safe and know that our industry will come out of this stronger than ever.
Read more about Bill Buettner: Pest control as an essential service not unprecedented