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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) answers Covid-19 related questions

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
September 11, 2021

 

[The EPA website has much information on ways to protect against the Covid-19 virus. Below are examples taken from the site, but to see more information, click here]

What kind of filter should I use in my home HVAC system to help protect my family from COVID-19?

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, or MERV, reports a filter’s ability to capture particles. Filters with MERV-13 or higher ratings can trap smaller particles, including viruses. Many home HVAC systems will have a MERV-8 filter installed as the default. Upgrading to a MERV-13 rated filter, or the highest-rated filter that your HVAC system fan and filter slot can accommodate, could improve the system’s efficacy in removing viruses from circulated air. Before making any changes to the air filter in an HVAC system, users should consult their HVAC manual or an HVAC professional.

Be sure the HVAC filter is correctly in place. Also consider running the system fan for longer times, or continuously, as HVAC systems filter the air only when the fan is running. Many systems can be set to run the fan even when no heating or cooling is taking place. Another measure that will help is opening the outside air intake, if your system has one. However, this is not common for home systems.

By itself, using an upgraded HVAC filter is not enough to protect people from COVID-19. When used along with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an upgraded HVAC filter can be part of a plan to protect yourself and your family.

Do disinfectants kill newer strains and variants of coronavirus?

EPA expects all products on List N to kill all strains and variants of SARS-CoV-2. Genetic changes to the virus do not impact the efficacy of disinfectants.
List N disinfectants work by chemically inactivating viruses. The difficulty of killing a virus depends on its physical features, and the recent mutations to SARS-CoV-2 have not changed the basic physical properties.

Can I use common household substances to kill the novel coronavirus?

EPA does not review effectiveness of common household ingredients like vinegar or rubbing alcohol, so EPA cannot verify how well they work to kill the novel coronavirus. EPA reviews and registers antimicrobial pesticides, which include surface disinfectant products for use on pathogens like SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website for more information about how to protect yourself.

Is there anything I can do to make surfaces resistant to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)?

EPA regulates the claims on pesticide product labels. EPA-registered surface disinfectants kill viruses at the time they are used. After use, if new viral particles come into contact with the surface, a previously applied disinfectant will not protect against these new particles.

EPA has published interim guidance on amending product registrations to add claims of residual efficacy against SARS-CoV-2. For more information, see EPA’s list of all products with residual efficacy that can be used against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

There are some antimicrobial pesticides that EPA calls materials preservatives that can be incorporated into articles. Known as “treated articles,” these plastics, textiles or other materials are treated with or contain a materials preservative to protect the article itself from mold or bacteria that can cause odor, discoloration or deterioration.
Treated articles cannot claim that they are effective against viruses and bacteria that cause human illness. This means that they are not appropriate for controlling COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you clean contaminated surfaces with liquid disinfectant products to prevent the spread of disease.

Can disinfectant products be used on people?

The products included in EPA’s list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) are for use on surfaces, not humans. Please see this press release for more information. Read our infographic on how to use EPA-registered disinfectants.
The disease called COVID-19 is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Our website has a list of products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). EPA will update this list with additional products as we review additional product data. For more information, view List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

Other Federal Resources related to Covid:

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