The EPA introduced List N in March of 2020. If you’re like us, that probably feels very long ago, even if you can’t believe we’re inching close to the end of the year already. No matter what, there’s no denying the remarkable speed with which “List N” has come to dominate the cleaning industry across the nation. Officially known now as List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s evolved from a simple spreadsheet-like document to a newly-launched, sophisticated “finder” that makes it even easier than ever to find a disinfectant that’s right for you.
Even though List N is everywhere, that doesn't mean it doesn't still confuse people. This confusion can be traced, in part, to its quick introduction and because it's been continually evolving as the EPA responds to new information about COVID-19. We thought it might help to look at some of the significant milestones that List N has gone through so far, so you can better understand what it means TODAY. In fact, we're going to tell you that right up front:
What Does List N Mean Today?
If it’s on List N, the EPA expects it to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19. Period.
That means there are more than 500 products, all of which are expected to kill COVID-19. The EPA has evolved List N by expanding it. It's critical to remember that newer products are not more or less effective against COVID-19 from the EPA's point of view. Remember this as you navigate the marketing claims of various disinfectant manufacturers.
EPA List N Timeline:
March 5, 2020:
The EPA introduces List N2
The EPA activated their Emerging Viral Pathogen program. This program allowed manufacturers to prove that their product killed viruses that are much harder to kill than COVID-19. Since the virus that causes COVID-19 wasn’t available for testing, this was a quick solution that the EPA could use. Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, one of the easiest to kill types. The EPA created the Emerging Viral Pathogen program in 2016 for just such an outbreak, and 2020 was the first time the EPA activated it.
March 13, 2020:
The EPA expands List N with Coronavirus Claims3
The EPA added over 200 products by allowing products that were proven effective against OTHER human coronaviruses onto the list. SARS-CoV-2 is just one of many coronaviruses, some of which are quite common, including 229E (alpha coronavirus), NL63 (alpha coronavirus), OC43 (beta coronavirus), and HKU1 (beta coronavirus.)4 Human Coronaviruses were first discovered in the 1960s, so there has been plenty of testing done on the effectiveness of disinfectants on these viruses.
April 2, 2020:
EPA adds List G and List L to List N5
The EPA expanded List N to over 360 products by adding List G (products effective against norovirus) and list L (products effective against ebola) to list N. This makes sense, as both norovirus and ebola are harder-to-kill viruses than enveloped viruses like the human coronavirus, and therefore met the necessary qualifications already.
July 6 and July 30, 2020:
First products directly tested against SARS-CoV-2 added6
Fifteen products were added to List N in July that had been directly tested against SARS-CoV-2 in a lab, as the virus was now available for testing. Again, the EPA does not consider these more or less effective than anything else on List N. But, it's another way the product selection can expand. It should be noted that right now, the testing process for disinfectants against SARS-CoV-2 can be eight or nine times more expensive than that of other viruses. The roll-out of these tests will be slow, and some companies may never test against it. That's why it's critical not to be fooled by any marketing claims into thinking only these products can be used to fight COVID-19. Again, from the EPA's standpoint, everything on List N is still considered effective against the virus that causes COVID-19.
October 12, 2020:
List N expands to over 500 products7
The EPA announced that List N had grown to over 500 products. All the products meet one of three criteria. They all are proven effective against:
- The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
- A pathogen that is harder to kill than SARS-CoV-2.
- A different human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2.
Two RTU Disinfectants, Both on List N
EnvirOx offers two RTU disinfectants on List N. You can see a more in-depth look at the differences between them in our recent blog. But one reason to understand the background of List N is to realize that even though the two products ended up on List N in two different ways, BOTH are effective against COVID-19.
- EnvirOx Critical Care is on List N because it kills a different human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2.
- EnvirOx TB Disinfectant is on List N because it’s been directly tested to kill SARS-CoV-2.