EPA-Approved Disinfectants, face mask rating labels, plexiglass dividers, and N95 respirators

By November 2, 2020 No Comments

EPA: make sure your disinfectant is on this list

EPA has released a list of 500 disinfectants that it approves for use to clean in the midst of COVID-19. 

There are a lot of options for effective cleaners, but there are also lots of unsafe or ineffective “disinfectants” out there that do not have a seal of approval from EPA, according to

Here is the official advisory from the EPA:

“EPA has now approved more than 500 surface disinfectant products for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This is an important milestone for ensuring American businesses, families, schools, and other organizations have as many tools as possible to disinfect surfaces and protect themselves and their families against the novel coronavirus.”

According to the CDC, while “it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes,” the virus is thought to spread mainly through close contact between individuals.


Face masks could soon come with COVID-19 rating labels 

Safety standard organization ASTM International is leading an effort to establish standards for reusable face coverings, according to Construction Dive.

The PPE industry, led by safety standard organization ASTM International, is working on a standard that would specify design and performance criteria for reusable masks. The group, established in July, aims to set requirements for:

  • The general construction of masks.
  • How the mask is secured to and stays affixed to the user’s head.
  • How well masks filter out bacterial and solid particulates.
  • Inhalation and exhalation breathing resistances.
  • Size and fit testing.
  • Affixing and removing masks, sizing, cleaning and recommended period of use.

The group is also working to establish how much of this information would be displayed on mask packaging. The standard would not supplant current NIOSH mask requirements nor OSHA industry standards.

The ASTM’s goal aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) previous statements that masks for the general public primarily should reduce the number of particles emanating from the user but also should provide the wearer with some protection against inhalation of these particles.

Beyond just general recommendations, the ASTM working group said that a national standard that specifies mask design and performance characteristics could help provide a “level playing field” for consumers as they try to find a suitable face covering. There is no official timeline for the development of the standard.

The ASTM does not enforce its standards. For mask producers to be held legally responsible for meeting the standard, the appropriate governmental agencies must give them weight by including them in applicable codes, laws or regulations. Then, just as with OSHA standards and consumer protection laws, mask producers could be forced to accurately report how well their products protect the public.  


Do plexiglass dividers actually work?

Given that they’re just about everywhere, how effective are they, asks a report by CNN Business.

Plexiglass shields can in theory protect workers against large respiratory droplets that spread if someone sneezes or coughs next to them, say epidemiologists, environmental engineers and aerosol scientists. Coronavirus is thought to spread from person to person “mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks,” according to the CDC.

Recently, CDC released new guidelines saying that the coronavirus can spread through aerosols — tiny particles containing the virus that float in the air and can travel beyond six feet — that are released when people breathe, talk or sneeze.

Most droplets people release when they talk or breathe are in a “size range that will flow past the barrier,” said Pratim Biswas, an aerosol scientist at Washington University in St. Louis.

The dividers “do not address all possible modes of transmission, such as aerosol transmission, or fully protect anyone from Covid-19,” the University of Washington’s Environmental Health and Safety Department said in a July review of the benefits and limitations of plexiglass barriers at campus facilities.

The National Restaurant Association said in a statement that plexiglass shields and barriers are a tool that “when combined with other best practices — like face coverings, appropriate social distancing, and handwashing — provide an additional level of safety.”

Depending on where you work or where you visit, such measures may be less than realistic, though. For instance, cashiers and waiters can’t do their job without being in close proximity to customers. That’s why upgrading ventilation systems is important to reduce the virus’ airborne spread in indoor settings, experts say.


OSHA issues FAQ confirming N95 respirators protect against the coronavirus

OSHA has published a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on how N95 respirators effectively protect wearers from coronavirus exposure, according to an agency new release.  

OSHA is aware of incorrect claims stating that N95 respirators’ filter does not capture particles as small as the virus that causes the coronavirus. OSHA’s new FAQ explains why an N95 respirator is effective at protecting users from the virus.  Visit OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage for further information and resources about the coronavirus.” 

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