Why Most Foggers Should Never Be Used for Disinfecting
To say there is a lot of misinformation regarding the various types of fogging/misting devices flooding the marketplace since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic would be putting it mildly.
These devices have long been used for pesticide, odor control, or other wide-area spraying applications. Recently, however, many companies have been using these devices to disinfect, spraying formulas that are not EPA registered for use with foggers/misters and without application guidance from the CDC.
Defogging the Facts
With few exceptions, fogging and misting devices are not to be used to spray disinfectants, largely because there are few disinfectants that have been EPA-approved for use with this equipment. In fact, the EPA’s List N of disinfectants deemed effective against the SAR-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, includes very few disinfectants approved for use in foggers, misters, or vaporizers. Their absence on this list is for a reason.
If a disinfectant’s label does not specifically list foggers, misters, and/or vaporizers, using it in this type of equipment is a violation of federal law. It is also dangerous. For one, the method of application changes the chemistry of disinfectants which, in turn, changes their efficacy, i.e., the sprayed formula may not be disinfecting the surface at all.
Another major reason the EPA frowns on fogging/misting disinfectants is that most of the models (see below) spray droplets far below 40 microns, which is the size that would be classified as true fogging. These smaller particles float in the air and do not wet the surface enough to maintain the required dwell time. In addition, due to their small size, the particulates can stay airborne longer and can much more easily be inhaled, causing lung and other respiratory problems—or worse.
Lifting the Fog
Below are some foggers/misters along with a few of their key attributes that make most of them unsuitable and/or dangerous for disinfecting.
These produce droplets ranging in size from 25 to 100 microns and are mostly used in professional deodorizing applications.
Ultra-Low Volume (UVL) Foggers
Usually made to generate particles in the 8 to 15 micron range that can remain in the air for five to six hours, these models are mostly used in pest control or professional deodorizing applications and for hard-to-reach areas, such as ductwork and crawl spaces.
Using heat, these change liquids into droplets as small as 0.5 to 2 microns. They produce a high-volume fog that can stay airborne for hours.
Pressure Regulated Foggers
These comprise the largest class of odor-control application equipment and come in several models:
- Pump spray
- Airless paint sprayer
- Fog machine.
Designed for pesticide or deodorant applications, once these are opened the vapor continues to be released until the can is empty.
TOMI Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide Fogger
This is one of the few models approved for use with an EPA-registered disinfectant approved for foggers/misters. Applying disinfectant using this system requires a special license and secondary containment as well as full gown and respirator PPE.
The Servicon Choice
Servicon relies on the EvaClean electrostatic spray system used with Purtabs disinfectant, which is EPA-registered for use with this device and is on the agency’s List N. This is a safe, legal, and highly effective method of disinfection.
As an industry, we must embrace innovation. However, it is vital for health and safety to only use compliant technologies and cleaning protocols. We are still in the middle of the greatest crisis we have faced in generations, and our industry cannot allow profiteering or ignorance to spread and cause harm to our clients, employees, or communities.
The TIPS Advantage
At Servicon, health and safety are our priorities. With this in mind, Servicon has partnered with The Infection Prevention Strategy (TIPS) to give us access to a network of top researchers, epidemiologists, and other scientists specializing in infection prevention. This partnership assures all Servicon products, equipment use, and methodologies are science-backed, and the information we share has been vetted for accuracy.
Neil Bernstein is Servicon’s strategic accounts director. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.