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EPA offers tips on safe disinfectant use, warns of fraudulent products

EPA provided tips for the general public on safe and proper use of disinfectants for COVID-19. The agency also contacted online retailers to warn that unscrupulous dealers are using their platforms to sell illegal disinfectant products.

Posted April 27, 2020

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continuing to provide information on surface disinfectant products that can be used during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The agency now has nearly 400 products that have qualified to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

When using an EPA-registered surface disinfectant, always follow the product’s directions and remember:

  • Never apply the product to yourself or others. Do not ingest disinfectant products. Never apply any product on List N (the EPA’s list of disinfectants) directly to food.
  • Never mix products unless specified in the use directions. Certain combinations of chemicals will create highly toxic acids or gases.
  • Wash the surface with soap and water before applying disinfectant products if the label mentions pre-cleaning.
  • Follow the contact time listed for your product on List N. This is the amount of time the surface must remain visibly wet to ensure efficacy against the virus. It can sometimes be several minutes.
  • Wash your hands after using a disinfectant. This will minimize your exposure to the chemicals in the disinfectant and the pathogen you are trying to kill.

The agency also announced that it is advising eight technology companies (online retailers) that unscrupulous dealers are using their platforms to sell illegal disinfectant products. The agency contacted the companies to ask for help in preventing impostor products from coming to market, and to remove those products from their sites.

Products that claim to kill or repel viruses, bacteria, or other germs are considered pesticides and must be registered with the EPA prior to distribution or sale. Unregistered disinfectants may be ineffective against the virus that causes COVID-19. EPA is urges consumers to see the agency’s list of approved disinfectant products at

This article was written by Ed Zalewski of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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