One of the questions on people’s minds is how to know if the disinfectant they are using is effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The good news it that coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 are enveloped viruses, therefore are generally quite susceptible to disinfectants. The downside is that confirming that the product has been approved can be a bit of a challenge.
In the US, when emerging viruses show up and are deemed a threat to public health, the Emerging Pathogen Rule is enacted. Depending on the type virus that has emerged, there are different requirements a disinfectant must meet in order to be considered effective. For SARS-CoV-2, the Emerging Pathogen Guidance went into effect as of January 29, 2020. The following conditions were required:
- The product must be a hospital or broad-spectrum disinfectant product registered with EPA.
- For an emerging enveloped virus, the product must have acceptable efficacy data previously submitted to and reviewed by the Agency against one non-enveloped virus (e.g. Poliovirus).
Due to the severity and spread of the virus, at the beginning of March, the EPA indicated that EPA-registered hospital or broad-spectrum disinfectants that carry a claim against Human Coronavirus would also be effective, allowing additional products to be included on EPA List N – products expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2.
One would think finding the product you use would then be relatively easy. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case. Many disinfectant manufacturers register products using a Project Name, meaning that the name of the product you are using is likely different from that on List N so when you search you will not find the product name. Instead, search by the EPA number listed on your product – that should work at least 50-60% of the time. If your product has 3 sets of numbers, then the product is a sub-registration. This means, a company has been given access to sell a product under a different name. In this case, you again only search for the first 2 set of numbers. The following is an example of what EPA List N looks like:
And that, folks, is how you find out if your disinfectant is registered and approved for use in the US against COVID-19.