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Disinfectant Use and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

EPA reviews and registers antimicrobial pesticides, which include disinfectants for use on pathogens like SARS-CoV-2, the novel human coronavirus that causes COVID-19. View frequent questions about disinfectants and Coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Timeline of EPA Disinfectant Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

EPA has been working to ensure that American families, communities, businesses, hospitals, and others are aware of and have access to effective surface disinfectant products to use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 

  • As part of the Federal Government’s efforts to minimize risks to its citizens, in January 2020 EPA activated—for the first time ever—its Emerging Viral Pathogens Guidance for Antimicrobial Pesticides. Under this guidance, EPA allows manufacturers to provide the agency with data, even in advance of an outbreak, to show their products are effective against harder-to-kill viruses. Once approved, these companies can make marketing claims for use against the novel coronavirus. Read the EPA announcement about activating the Emerging Viral Pathogens Guidance.
  • In early March 2020, EPA released its initial List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (List N). This list continues to be updated on a weekly basis. It is searchable and sortable, comes with helpful tips on how to use disinfectants properly, and features frequently asked questions to ensure correct product usage. As with any EPA-registered product, carefully read the label and only use the product as described in its directions.
  • Starting in early March, EPA began to expedite certain types of registrations and amendments for products intended for use against SARS-CoV-2. As of April 2021, EPA is no longer expediting its review of these actions. 
    • In March 2020, EPA launched an expedited review process for new Emerging Viral Pathogens Claim Submissions in order to add applicable products to List N as quickly as possible. 
    • In May 2020, EPA expanded the expedited review program to include new products as well as amendments to existing product labels that require the review of new efficacy data.
    • In July 2020, EPA began to expedite applications to add directions for use with electrostatic sprayers to products intended to kill SARS-CoV-2. 
    • In October 2020, EPA announced it would expedite applications to add residual efficacy claims to products intended for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).
  • In August 2020, EPA issued an emergency exemption to the state of Texas permitting it to allow American Airlines and Total Orthopedics Sports & Spine to use SurfaceWise2, a product with residual efficacy against coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2. 
  • In April 2021, EPA issued emergency exemptions to Georgia, Minnesota, and Utah allowing them to use an antiviral adhesive film, BIAXAM, in Delta Air Lines aircraft and airline facilities in those states. After it’s applied, the film kills SARS-CoV-2 particles that land on the surface within two hours. Based on differences in cleaning and disinfection frequency and protocols used in airport terminals vs airplanes, it remains effective for up to 100 days on airport surfaces and up to 200 days on airplane surfaces. Read EPA’s announcement on this action.

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Ensuring Availability of Disinfectants

EPA has partnered with industry to help assure access to the in-demand disinfectant products included on List N. Through close collaboration with disinfectant manufacturers, we’ve identified several ways we can be more flexible to avoid supply chain disruptions without sacrificing public health and environmental protections:

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Taking Action Against Fraudulent Products

Consumers should beware of imposter disinfectant products that are being marketed online with potentially dangerous claims of protection against the novel coronavirus. EPA is working the Department of Justice and other federal agencies to bring the full force of the law against those selling fraudulent or unregistered products. Read the press release about the EPA Administrator’s call with major retailers and third-party marketplaces to ensure that only approved disinfectant products are available for sale.

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