Since March 2020, EPA has prioritized and expedited reviews of disinfectant products under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide ACT (FIFRA). These pandemic-related efforts have included expedited review for emerging viral pathogen claims, prioritization of efficacy data for such claims and directions for use with electrostatic sprayers, and expedited pathways for review of products making residual efficacy claims. Focused enforcement has resulted in significant penalties, stop sale orders, and other consequences for FIFRA violations.
By any measure, EPA’s efforts have met with success. Disinfectant products on EPA’s “List N” now number well over 500 products. EPA has also prioritized state requests for Section 18 emergency exemptions to use certain pesticide products that have not yet completed the full FIFRA registration process.
On April 5, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance indicating that the risk of SARS CoV-2 infection from surfaces “is generally considered to be low.” CDC also advised that cleaning with soap or detergent should be sufficient for routine surface cleaning and use of disinfectants should be focused on situations where infectious SARS CoV-2 presence is likely.
Based on the CDC guidance and EPA’s successful completion of hundreds of reviews, EPA announced on April 28, 2021, that expedited reviews of disinfectant products under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide ACT (FIFRA) were no longer warranted. Applications to register disinfectant products aimed at SARS CoV-2 must now follow the standard FIFRA application procedures and timetables. Companies intending to seek approval for disinfectant products will need to adjust their plans for the extended deadlines. Manufacturers, importers and distributors should also expect continued EPA emphasis on enforcement against sale of unapproved products and false or misleading claims.