If you’ve ever looked closely at a disinfectant product label, you may notice a very long – and very specific – list of microorganisms it’s proven to disinfect. So when a new pathogen surfaces, how do you know whether or not your disinfectant will be effective?
SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the COVID-19 outbreak, has many clinicians asking that question. Thankfully, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – the regulating body that approves disinfectant claims – has a very helpful resource called List N.
What is List N?
List N includes products that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2.
While products on List N have not specifically been tested against SARS-CoV-2, they’re expected to be effective because they:
Demonstrated efficacy against a harder-to-kill virus
Qualified for the emerging viral pathogens claim
Demonstrated efficacy against another human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2
Searching List N
The list is searchable in a number of ways, including by product name, active ingredient and formulation type.
List N only displays primary products, but it’s very common for distributor products with an identical formula to be sold under a different brand name. That makes searching the list a little tricky because the name of the product displayed on List N might not match the brand name you use, even though they're identical formulas.
Products that have the same formula and efficacy will have the same EPA Registration Number, so searching by your product’s EPA Registration Number will give you the most accurate results.
Knowing whether your product is a distributor product will help you in your search. You can quickly identify them by the way the EPA Registration Number is formatted.
Primary Products have one hyphen: EPA Reg. No. xxxx-xxxx Distributor Products have two hyphens: EPA Reg. No. xxxx-xx-xxxxx
Why is this important? Because searching List N for a distributor product using the EPA Registration Number in its entirety will give you inaccurate results.
How do I search for a Distributor Product?
Even if your disinfectant product has three sets of numbers, you only need to use the first two sets of numbers in your search to see accurate results.
For example, Opti-Cide3® Spray is registered under EPA Reg. No. 70144-1-51003. Even though it has three sets of numbers, you only need to include the first two sets of numbers in your search: 70144-1.
If your search turns up a matching result – even if the product name is listed as something different – you can feel confident that your product will be effective against SARS-CoV-2.
Here’s a quick-look guide for locating a product’s EPA Registration Number and how to properly search for it on List N:
What else do I need to know?
List N includes two other important columns of information: virus-specific disinfection directions and contact times. Because products qualify to be on List N based on their efficacy against a harder-to-kill virus, it’s important to know how much contact time is required based on what that harder-to-kill virus may be.
List N is being updated frequently as the EPA reviews incoming claim requests, so there may be additional disinfectants that meet the criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 that have not yet been added. In the meantime, the EPA recommendssticking to products on the list, just to be sure. You can check the list periodically to see if a specific product has been recently added.