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Last month in our Market Pulse section, we ran a story about the confusion surrounding “green” disinfectants, “Disinfectants: Finding A Green Alternative”. We’ve received feedback from a number of readers asking for additional information.

There are a number of disinfectants currently on the market that aren’t as harsh as traditional products. They have a neutral pH, have little or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or are OK to touch. Many of these products are also registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); however, they are not registered because they are green. EPA registration has to do with efficacy — that the product proves it works against certain microorganisms, such MRSA or avian influenza.

Currently, EPA’s green partnership program, Design for the Environment, does not deal with disinfectants because these products are classified as pesticides. And because they “kill” microorganisms, manufacturers are not authorized to use the words “safe” or “non-toxic” on their labels, nor can the products be certified by third-party organizations, regardless of how green (or less harmful) the product may be.

With the strict guidelines set by the EPA regarding pesticides, the only way for distributors and end users to know how harmful the product truly is, is by doing their homework: check out the product’s material safety data sheet (MSDS) to find out product composition, a listing of active and inactive ingredients and exposure limits. If further information is needed, contact the manufacturer or get clarification from the EPA.