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Antimicrobial Pesticides

Antimicrobial pesticides, such as disinfectants and sanitizers, are pesticides that are intended to (1) disinfect, sanitize, reduce, or mitigate growth or development of microbiological organisms, or (2) protect inanimate objects (for example, floors and walls), industrial processes or systems, surfaces, water, or other chemical substances from contamination, fouling, or deterioration caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, algae, or slime.


About Antimicrobial Pesticides

Antimicrobial pesticides do not include pesticides intended for food use, but do encompass pesticides with a wide array of other uses. For example, antimicrobial pesticides act as preserving agents in paints, metalworking fluids, wood supports, and many other products to prevent their deterioration. They are especially important because many are public health pesticides. They help to control microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms) that can cause human disease. Antimicrobial public health pesticides are used as disinfectants in medical settings, where they are present in products used in cleaning cabinets, floors, walls, toilets, and other surfaces. Proper use of these disinfectants is an important part of infection control activities used by hospitals and other medical establishments.

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Regulation of Antimicrobial Pesticides

EPA regulates pesticides under the statutory authority of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The registration requirements for antimicrobial pesticides differ somewhat from those of other pesticides. For example, EPA requires special tests to ensure efficacy of public health pesticides when the pests are invisible disease-causing microbes, rather than insects or rodents that may be harboring disease organisms. Similarly, determining human and ecological risks from exposure to antimicrobial pesticides requires different types of measurements and models than those needed for pesticides largely applied to crops and other plants. In view of these and other differences, EPA decided that its regulations governing pesticide registration requirements should also incorporate special antimicrobial sections.

Before the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, there were no special provisions for antimicrobial pesticides. Under previous law, EPA and FDA shared responsibilities for some products, and EPA reviewed applications consistent with Agency priorities, resources, and the timing of submissions. FQPA amends the definition of pesticide under FIFRA to exclude liquid chemical sterilants, which are to be regulated exclusively by FDA. It also reforms the antimicrobial registration process, with the goal of achieving significantly shorter EPA review times.

The Antimicrobial Division in EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs is responsible for all regulatory activities associated with antimicrobial pesticides, including product registrations, amendments, and reregistrations.

Related publications from the Ag Center
Antimicrobial Pesticides

More information from EPA
EPA's Antimicrobial Pesticide Web site
Antimicrobial Chemical Name and Registration Number Indices
Pesticide Registration (PR) Notices
Antimicrobials Registration Policy Documents
Antimicrobial Science Policy Documents
EPA's Pesticide Program Label Review Manual
EPA Issues Guidance for Testing and Labeling Pesticide Products that Help Prevent the Spread of H1N1 Influenza A Virus
Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) as Wood Preservative
Acid Copper Chromate (ACC) Residential Uses Won’t be Registered
Label Guidance for Antimicrobial Pesticides Used Against Avian Influenza A
Guidance for Registration of Anthrax-Related Pesticide Products
EPA Green Lights First Antimicrobial Pesticide Against Anthrax
Pesticide Registration Notice Available Announcing Establishment of the Antimicrobial Exposure Assessment Task Force II

More information from other organizations
National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) Exit EPA - now taking inquiries, via their telephone help-line and web-based services, regarding antimicrobial pesticides and pesticide products. The toll-free phone service is available daily, 6:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. (PT) at 1-800-858-7378.

Contact EPA
Antimicrobial Division

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