October 13, 2022

EPA Registers First Air Sanitizer for Influenza and Coronavirus

The first antimicrobial product for use in air that can kill both bacteria and viruses has been registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The product, Lysol Air Sanitizer, was tested against a surrogate virus “and is expected to be effective against similar airborne viruses such as SARS-CoV-2,” according to EPA. The agency stated in a press release that the product poses no unreasonable risk to health or the environment when used as directed.

The active ingredient in Lysol Air Sanitizer is dipropylene glycol, which is used in many consumer products, including antifreeze, air fresheners, cosmetics, solvents, and plastic, according to a report on the substance published by the National Toxicology Program in 2004 (PDF). NTP’s report evaluated toxicological and carcinogenesis studies of dipropylene glycol that focused primarily on ingestion since the chemical is unlikely to be absorbed through the skin. NTP found no evidence of carcinogenic activity.

In 2020, EPA designated (PDF) dipropylene glycol as a low-priority substance under the Toxic Substances Control Act as amended by the Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. A low-priority designation indicates that the risks associated with use of the chemical are low and that an agency risk evaluation is not warranted.

FIFRA requires all pesticides distributed or sold in the United States to be registered by EPA. To attain registration, companies must show that using the product as intended will not cause any “unreasonable risk to [humans] or the environment,” according to the legislation.

The EPA press release states that “the use of antimicrobial products supplements but does not replace standard infection control practices” and counsels individuals to follow CDC and public health guidelines for mask wearing, distancing, and ventilation.