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Trump EPA Research Studying the Effectiveness of Longer-Lasting Disinfectants

Scientists studying disinfectants to help ensure the safety of mass transit

07/07/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (July 7, 2020) — During the global pandemic, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the need for information on better ways to reduce potential exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. These needs are most obvious for surfaces that are frequently touched by many people. EPA researchers are evaluating a number of commercially available products for potential long-lasting effectiveness against the virus. This research is being conducted at the EPA Office of Research and Development's Center for Environmental Solutions and Emergency Response in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, using surfaces that mimic the high touch points in mass transit trains and stations.

“As part of the Trump Administration’s all-of-America response to COVID-19, EPA scientists, in collaboration with some of the nation’s largest transit agencies, are providing real-time, important information on longer-lasting disinfectants that could revolutionize how we minimize COVID and COVID-like risks in public spaces,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “While the country begins to safely reopen, we understand that mass transit is a concern to the public and our scientists are actively addressing these challenges.”

EPA is working directly with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), North America’s largest transportation network, on evaluating EPA-registered anti-microbial products across New York City Transit to determine their ability to provide effective anti-virus protection over time. 

Currently, EPA-registered products that claim long-lasting effectiveness are limited to those that control odor-causing bacteria on hard, non-porous surfaces. There are no EPA-registered products that claim long-lasting disinfection. The benefit of a longer-lasting antimicrobial product is the reduced need to clean and disinfect a surface or object every time after someone new touches it. Transit agencies around the country are currently using multi-step cleaning and disinfection processes, but would greatly benefit from a product that had long-lasting disinfection capabilities. 

EPA researchers will determine whether antimicrobial products can provide residual disinfection on surfaces over time and how durable the disinfection ability of the product is with normal use, including routine cleaning and natural weathering. Data generated by EPA researchers will inform any regulatory decisions (including the approval and use of these products according to the label) made as part of the pesticide registration process through the Office of Pesticide Programs.

EPA researchers are also evaluating other possible high-efficiency alternative methods to disinfect such as ultraviolet light (UV), ozone, and steam that could be used on public transit systems to keep trains, buses, and facilities clean and safe for passengers. They are also studying promising disinfectant application methods such as electrostatic sprayers or foggers. 

As part of this effort, EPA has partnered with L.A. Metro, the third largest transit agency in the United States, to evaluate a number of new technologies, including UVC lighting and air filtration systems, to combat the virus that causes COVID-19 on public transit systems. 

EPA will make the results of this research available to help inform decisions on the use of longer-lasting disinfection products, including information on the frequency of use to maintain disinfection capabilities over time.

For more information about EPA’s research on the virus that causes COVID-19, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/healthresearch/research-covid-19-environment

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