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EPA Working With Companies to ID New Coronavirus Disinfectants

March 20, 2020, 7:41 PM

Disinfectant manufacturers held a virtual meeting with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Friday as the agency fast-tracks more products to stave off the new coronavirus.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler held a series of conference calls with the Consumer Brands Association and the Household & Commercial Products Association, among others, to discuss the agency’s expanded and expedited process to approve disinfectants to prevent Covid-19.

“Our collaboration is critical to slowing the spread of this virus, keeping us safe and healthy. By expediting reviews—both in labeling familiar products, and by approving new products for market—we’re aiding American families and communities across America,” Wheeler said in a news release.

The agency on Monday released an expanded list of registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against coronavirus, with the the total number of products now at 287.

Wipes made by GOJO Industries Inc., known for its Purell hand sanitizer, are among the products on the EPA’s approved list.

Demand for such products has prompted GOJO to boost production with additional shifts, and the company is hiring workers for its manufacturing and distribution operations, Samantha Williams, GOJO’s senior director for corporate communications, said in an email.

The EPA’s conference calls came one day after the Department of Homeland Security added cleaning product manufacturers to the list of workers deemed necessary to maintain “essential critical infrastructure” as the country fights the pandemic.

Emerging Viral Pathogens Program

The fast-tracking of disinfectants is part of an EPA program set up in 2016 to accelerate the availability of products when a public health crisis is declared.

Under the program, EPA can expedite the review of companies’ requests to add “emerging viral pathogen” claims to their already-registered surface disinfectant labels. In many cases, this means claims can be approved within 14 days, compared to the 90 days it normally takes.

“Initially, the limited number of disinfectants that were approved to kill the virus meant consumers, along with hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions, couldn’t get what they needed,” William Balek, general counsel for the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, said.

Information for Consumers

For people interested in purchasing products for use against coronavirus, the EPA advises consumers to check the registration number included on List N. If the number matches, the product can be used against the new coronavirus.

Likewise, products may be marketed and sold under different brand names, but if they have the same first two sets of EPA registration numbers, they are related products.

For instance, “if EPA Reg. No. 12345-12 is on List N, you can buy EPA Reg. No. 12345-12-2567 and use the same contact time and virus from List N,” the agency said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Adam Allington in Washington at aallington@bloombergenvironment.com; Pat Rizzuto in Washington at prizzuto@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Rebecca Baker at rbaker@bloomberglaw.com

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