Cleaning executives have trusted in the efficacy that an EPA registration implies for the disinfectants used by staff. But now users are being informed by the EPA Office of Inspector General — in the 2016 report — that, “Once the EPA tests a product and it passes, it is listed as Agency Confirmed Efficacy on the agency’s website and is typically not tested again; the long-term efficacy of the product cannot be assured.” 

The IG also revealed that the EPA relies on manufacturers to voluntarily submit product samples for testing. And in the last three years, out of the approximately 300 registered disinfectant products yet to be tested, manufacturers submitted only 12 samples to the EPA for ATP efficacy evaluation.

However, this isn’t a new problem. In August 1990, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released “Disinfectants: EPA Lacks Assurance They Work.” The report reads, “…historical enforcement and other data estimated that 20 percent of disinfectants on the market did not work as claimed, posing health risks to users.”

It was this report that launched the initial Antimicrobial Testing Report in 1991, and successes have been slow coming ever since. According to an IG report in 2010, “after nearly 19 years, over 40 percent of registered products have not been tested . . . [and] those that have been tested have experienced a consistently high failure rate.”

What does all this mean for environmental services managers today?

The key takeaway is that managers, “should exercise and document independent diligence in selecting and using chemical disinfectants and tuberculocides for hard-surface disinfection,” according to international law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. They add that, “effective infection control regimes may benefit from the use of multiple products, as well as non-chemical disinfection protocols.”

As healthcare institutions assess the effectiveness of their infection control programs, the 2016 IG report suggests that hospitals may not necessarily want to rely on EPA registration alone. Instead, have strategies in place to guarantee proper cleaning protocols are met.

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Ensuring The Efficacy Of Disinfectants
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