EPA Lacks Assurance That Disinfectants Kill Germs

T-RCED-91-1: Published: Oct 2, 1990. Publicly Released: Oct 2, 1990.

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GAO discussed how well the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reassured doctors, nurses, and consumers that disinfectants were effective. GAO found that: (1) almost all EPA-approved efficacy test methods and performance standards have been embroiled in scientific controversy for over a decade; (2) EPA acknowledged that existing disinfectant efficacy methods need to be improved, but failed to make progress in resolving controversies; (3) EPA contributed to controversies by accepting test methods and modifications to methods that were not independently validated through laboratory evaluation; (4) EPA lacked sufficient internal controls to ensure the quality and integrity of the disinfectant efficacy data that registrants submitted; (5) EPA failed to inspect most of the laboratories that performed such studies and was unaware of most of the laboratories; (6) registrants submitted selective data to EPA; (7) EPA lacked an enforcement strategy to ensure that marketed disinfectants worked as claimed; (8) EPA primarily relied on others to test disinfectants, but few states and no user groups routinely monitored disinfectants and industry self-regulation was ineffective; and (9) EPA did not establish a system for processing complaints about disinfectants.

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