The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved, for the first time, a pesticide product for long-lasting efficacy claims (also called residual efficacy) against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Unlike standard disinfectants, “residual efficacy” products are continually efficacious against viruses or other microorganisms over a period of hours (or even months) rather than just at point of use. Based on efficacy data, EPA expects the product approved last week—antimicrobial copper alloy that contains at least 95.6% copper—to eliminate 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2 within two hours, on an ongoing basis. However, EPA has only approved antimicrobial copper alloy for supplemental residual efficacy claims; these are products that do not meet EPA’s standards for a disinfectant, but are intended to supplement the use of EPA’s List N disinfectants. (List N contains those products EPA has approved for limited claims of efficacy against the novel coronavirus.) Accordingly, antimicrobial copper alloy has been added to EPA’s List N Appendix, which catalogues those products approved for supplemental residual efficacy claims.
EPA evaluated copper alloy using the new expedited review protocols for long-lasting efficacy products announced last year, which included revised testing protocols for copper and other metals. In addition to the supplemental residual efficacy claims EPA has approved here, the Agency is also expediting review for products that may qualify as “residual disinfectants.” Residual disinfectants are efficacious within 10 minutes of contact from a virus and remain effective for up to 24 hours. And unlike supplemental residual products, EPA does not require additional disinfection from a List N product when using a residual disinfectant. If approved, residual disinfectants will be added directly to List N and can be found by searching for the keyword “residual.” To date, EPA has not approved any residual disinfectants for List N.