From a manufacturer's perspective, EPA registration of disinfectants is a long and windy road often filled with potholes, U-turns and the occasional dead end. It's true, there are defined test methods that a manufacturer must use to prove product disinfectant efficacy, toxicity profiles and chemistry profiles etc. There are also a number of supporting documents that the EPA has published such as the EPA Label Review Manual and Code of Federal Regulations - Labeling Requirements to "help" ensure that disinfectant product labels, marketing materials, advertisements, websites and even tradeshow booth graphics use "approved" language and avoid the use of "inappropriate" language.
Safe, Safely, Safer, Safest, Green, Non-Toxic, Harmless... etc, etc are wonderfully simple yet descriptive words that clearly impart in plain English a meaning that the general population can understand. These words can easily be found in the Merriam or Webster dictionary, however, in the EPA's Dictionary of Approved Words that CAN be used on Disinfectant Product Labels or Marketing Materials they do not exist. They are banned, they are taboo, they are to be avoided at all costs and if used....there can be hefty repercussions.
Unfortunately, from a consumer perspective there is no class that can be taken to learn what can and cannot, should and should not be included on disinfectant product labels or marketing materials. "Policing" of disinfectant marketing materials, advertisement etc is primarily left to industry to monitor their competitors. Most reputable manufacturers follow the rules and ensure that they do not use words or phrases that are considered false or misleading, however, there are those unscrupulous companies that know the general consumer does not understand what can be said by law on their marketing materials and also know that "simple" words such as Safe or Harmless will resonate with the consumer looking to choose a product. They have no qualms pulling the wool over your eyes to sell more product or position their product against similar competitive products to gain a competitive edge so to speak and make another buck.
To become a "Pro" at reading and interpreting disinfectant labels and marketing materials you certainly can use the EPA Label Review Manual or CFR Labeling Requirements regulation, but having read them myself, save yourself the trouble. Instead when reviewing new disinfectant products ask yourself the following:
1. Do these claims seem too good to be true? If they do, ask to see the data used to make the claims.
2. Is the wool being pulled over my eyes? Do these claims or statements seem misleading? If so, investigate further and ask lots of questions and gather the data to support the claims.
3. Are they using "Bathroom" words? If they are, you should question the accuracy and appropriateness of such claims.
As a consumer if you are uncertain as to the appropriateness of claims or statements made on disinfectant products and their associated marketing materials you can submit an inquiry to the EPA or just call or email me...I'd be happy to provide clarification for you!