EPA eases priority for products that treat surface contamination of SARS-CoV-2


July 7, 2021



Although at press time, the COVID-19 coronavirus has not been completely eradicated in the United States, signs that the situation is slowly improving are clear.

This spring, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported it no longer will prioritize public health emergency requests for new products developed to treat the surface contamination of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

The move is based on new scientific information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found the risk of being infected with COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces is low. Data show exposure to respiratory droplets carrying the infectious the SARS-CoV-2 virus is the main method of contracting COVID-19.

This affects both sanitizing and disinfecting services for the pest control industry and other industries. Note the distinction between the terms: Sanitizing reduces, but does not kill, the occurrence and growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Disinfecting, meanwhile, kills the organisms listed on the product label.

Both services are still viable, however. The CDC did not rule out the possibility of contracting the virus by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces, and clean surfaces reduce the risk of other virus and disease pathogens.

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, providing sanitizing and disinfecting services made sense for PMPs who had access to the appropriate products, the licenses required to use them, and the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to apply them safely. Customer demand for low-risk, uncontaminated spaces helped boost the need of these add-on services, which remain popular.

Because sanitizing and disinfecting services were so prevalent during the pandemic, the EPA took steps to ensure the availability of disinfectants and activated its Emerging Viral Pathogens policy, updated protocols, and expedited reviews of antimicrobial products. Hundreds of products considered effective against SARS-CoV-2 are included on the EPA’s List N. The EPA says it expects all the products on List N to kill SARS-CoV-2 if the product label is followed.

According to the EPA, it will no longer expedite new product registrations, emerging viral pathogen claims, SARS-CoV-2 claims, and electrostatic spraying directions for products intended to kill SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces, based on the new information from the CDC. Instead, the EPA says it will shift its resources to the evaluation of new or improved products, such as those that kill SARS-CoV-2 when it is airborne.

About the Author

Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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