EPA encourages Schools and Universities to Use EPA-Approved Products and Disinfectants to keep Students Safe

As many students across the nation return to school this fall, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reminding school districts and state and local officials to remain vigilant when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting school buildings and facilities by using only products found on EPA’s List N. As part of the efforts to safely reopen schools, EPA is continuing to work closely with states, local governments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide up to date information to protect public health as school districts, private schools, and universities develop and implement COVID-19 re-entry plans for their students, staff, and parents.  “There is no higher priority for the Trump Administration than protecting the health and safety of Americans, especially as our nation’s children head back to school,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA is providing robust information and tools to help school districts and universities properly clean and disinfect surfaces in order to fight the spread of this coronavirus so they can safely reopen.”  EPA is working to combat imposter disinfectant products from being marketed online with potentially dangerous claims of protection against the novel coronavirus. In some cases, there are statements that products will provide protection from COVID-19 for up to 90 days. To date, EPA has approved only one product that has long-lasting effects against COVID-19 and is expeditiously working to review additional products. EPA’s approval is limited to Texas and permits only American Airlines airport facilities and planes at specific locations and two Total Orthopedics Sports & Spine Clinics to use SurfaceWise2 under certain conditions.  EPA’s approval allows Texas to permit only American Airlines airport facilities and planes at specific locations and two Total Orthopedics Sports & Spine Clinics to use SurfaceWise2 under certain conditions.  To stop products from being illegally sold in the United States, EPA is also working with the Department of Justice and other federal agencies to bring the full force of the law against those selling fraudulent or unregistered products.  Cleaning products that claim to kill and/or be effective against viruses are pesticides and must be registered with EPA prior to distribution or sale. These products may not be sold or distributed unless they have been properly tested and then registered by EPA. The agency will not register a product claiming to be effective against coronaviruses until it has determined that it will not pose an unreasonable risk and will be effective when used according to the label directions.  EPA continues to add products to List N that are expected to kill SARS-CoV-2. There are currently 486 approved products currently on List N. When using an EPA-registered disinfectant, follow the label directions for safe, effective use. These directions include, but are not limited to:

  • To ensure safety, always follow the product label. This includes making sure to follow the contact time, which is the amount of time the surface should be visibly wet.
  • Keep disinfectants out of reach of children. Children should not apply disinfectants. While disinfectants are powerful tools for controlling the spread of disease, they can harm children’s health if used or stored incorrectly. The risk disinfectants pose to human health increases if the label is not followed.
  • Only use fogging, fumigation, and wide-area or electrostatic spraying to apply EPA-registered products designed and labeled for use in this way. Unless the pesticide product label specifically includes disinfection directions for these application methods, it may not be effective when applied in these ways.
  • Do not apply disinfectants to skin, food or cloth face coverings. Do not mix disinfectants with other chemicals. Use disinfectants only at the concentrations specified in the label directions.

If an EPA-registered disinfectant from List N is not available, diluted household bleach can be used to disinfect surfaces. Users should closely follow the bleach dilution directions on the CDC’s website, including precautions.  Please note that according to the CDC, while “it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes,” the virus is thought to spread mainly through close contact between individuals.  For more information, visit https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus.