On October 14, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released much-anticipated draft guidance that will allow companies to demonstrate that their products have “long-lasting” or “residual” effectiveness on surfaces against viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. As most know, EPA has not before now provided guidance on how stakeholders can demonstrate to EPA’s satisfaction that their product remains efficacious for periods of time, given the broad diversity of contact opportunities and scenarios. Importantly, EPA states that pursuant to Title VII of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, it is providing notice of its intention to expedite reviews for addition of residual (i.e., extended or long-lasting) efficacy claims for currently registered or new product registrations that are on EPA’s Disinfectant List N, that would qualify for List N, or products that can be used as a residual supplement to disinfectants on List N. The guidance specifies scientific testing requirements for two different types of products, supplemental residual antimicrobial products and residual disinfectants. According to EPA, supplemental residual antimicrobial products work within two hours of a virus or bacteria coming into contact with a surface and can remain effective for weeks to years. EPA notes that these products can supplement, but do not replace, routine cleaning and disinfection using products from EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Approved supplemental residual antimicrobial products are not eligible for inclusion on List N, but EPA will add them to a separate List N appendix.
In addition to releasing the draft residual efficacy protocols, EPA has also released an updated draft testing protocol for evaluating a copper surface’s ability to kill bacteria and a draft protocol for evaluating the efficacy of antimicrobial surface coatings. According to EPA, “[t]hese laboratory testing methods act as a foundation for EPA’s interim guidance to registrants regarding residual effectiveness.”