Some pest management firms are considering adding disinfection services to their operation to help protect the health and safety of their community, and to add a new service line to their business. However, there are many safety and regulatory factors that must be considered before applying disinfectant products. This section provides a brief outline of those elements that your business must take into account before providing these services.
Antimicrobial products are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs. Although at this time no products are currently registered for the novel human coronavirus strain that is of current concern, EPA has published a list of products that are approved for use against this viral pathogen. A link to the EPA list can be found below.
In response to the outbreak, EPA has activated its Emerging Viral Pathogens Guidance for Antimicrobial Pesticides. This is a voluntary process for antimicrobial registrants to enable the use of certain EPA-registered disinfectant products against this emerging viral pathogen, as such new products may be added to EPA’s List of Registered Disinfectants.
Can I use fumigation or wide-area spraying to help control COVID-19?
EPA does not recommend use of fumigation or wide-area spraying to control COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you clean contaminated surfaces with liquid products, such as those provided on List N, to prevent the spread of disease. Read CDC's recommendations. Fumigation and wide-area spraying are not appropriate tools for cleaning contaminated surfaces.
Disinfectants in Canada are regulated by the Natural Health Products Directorate, Health Canada’s Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB), not the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). A list of registered disinfectant products in Canada can be found here.
Public Health Ontario has released this guidance on Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings.
NOTE: Always Read and Follow All Label Directions
No single best practice or standard operating procedure has been established for disinfection services. Businesses are developing disinfection protocols based on label instructions for the antimicrobial products being incorporated into the service. As with every pesticide, always read and follow all label instructions. Efficacy of antimicrobial products is highly dependent on the length of time that the treated surface remains wet. Information about contact time will be specified on the label. This may impact equipment selection since droplet size and application volume varies between equipment type, which will impact drying time. Media reports have characterized fogging devices used for disinfection, however it should be noted that application methods and equipment will be specified on the label. Unless fogging is specified on the label, it should not be used.
New research published by scientists from National Institutes of Health (NIH), CDC, UCLA and Princeton University in The New England Journal of Medicine indicates that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Most insurance policies required to conduct pest control business may not cover services related to disinfection services. It is important to contact your insurance provider to determine if additional coverage is required to provide these services.
Pest management firms that are considering adding disinfection services to their business should draft a stand-alone contract that outlines the parameters of those services. As with any contract, an attorney should review this agreement before it is issued to clients.
When communicating service-related information that references disinfection, sterilization, or cleaning, using correct terminology is important. This ensures you are conveying accurate information to clients and staff. According to the Centers for Disease Control, disinfection is defined as the process of eliminating pathogenic microorganisms, except bacterial spores, on inanimate objects. Sterilization describes the process of eliminating microbial life through various physical or chemical methods. And, cleaning, is the removal of visible soil from objects or surfaces. While the differences between these definitions may be subtle, they are important and should be considered when drafting internal or external documents. Additional information on the CDC’s infection control definitions can be found here.
Regulations regarding disinfection services vary from state to state or province to province. In the US, some states require nothing more than a standard business license to utilize EPA registered general use disinfectants, other have specific antimicrobial categories incorporated into their regulatory programs. Additionally, some states have indicated that special considerations may be made to allow for antimicrobial use by companies with certifications in non-antimicrobial categories. Because the regulatory/licensing landscape is varied and somewhat fluid. NPMA recommends that businesses considering adding disinfection services to their operations consult the state or provincial lead agency for specific information on the requirements. An interactive map of US state lead agency contact information can be found here.
US States Requiring Licensing for Antimicrobial Applications
Please refer to this spreadsheet for information about antimicrobial application licensing requirements in your state. (Refer to final two columns.)
The following states have issued emergency regulations/guidance on antimicrobial applications: