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Why Are Disinfectants and Sanitizers Classified as Pesticides?

Aug 19, 2019

Pesticide-label

The word “pesticide” appears on all of Betco’s disinfectant and sanitizer product labels and safety data sheets. 

You may have noticed this language on safety data sheets:

EPA Statement:
This chemical is a pesticide product registered by the Environmental Protection Agency and is subject to certain labeling requirements under federal pesticide law. These requirements differ from the classification criterial and hazard information required for safety data sheets, and for workplace labels of nonpesticide chemicals. Below is the signal word as required on the pesticide label:

Or you may have noticed directions for “Pesticide Storage” and “Pesticide Disposal” on product labels (click image below to enlarge).

pesticide label

So why are disinfectants and sanitizers listed as pesticides?  People often use the term "pesticide" to refer only to insecticides, but it actually applies to all the substances used to control pests.  Disinfectants and sanitizers—as well as insecticides, herbicides, swimming pool treatments, and even leaf defoliants—are managed by EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs.  Disinfectants and sanitizers kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi.  According to the EPA these are considered pests just as insects, weeds, snails, and slugs are considered pests.  Therefore, the EPA classifies disinfectants and sanitizers as pesticides.

In addition, the EPA further classifies disinfectants as antimicrobial pesticides: “Intended to disinfect, sanitize, reduce or mitigate growth or development of microbiological organisms or protect inanimate objects, industrial processes or systems, surfaces, water or other chemical substances from contamination, fouling or deterioration caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, algae, or slime.”

For more detailed information from the EPA, please click here or here.

So, the term “pesticides” covers a large range of products, from your well-known insecticides and herbicides to less well-known disinfectants and sanitizers, and the inclusion of this term on product literature, including labels and safety data sheets, should not be considered cause for concern. Whether from Betco or a different chemical manufacturer, all disinfectants and sanitizers in the United States must be labeled as pesticides.

All of Betco’s safety data sheets are up-to-date and available online. Simply click the “SDS” tab in the red navigation bar at the top of our website to access Safety Data Sheets for all products, or check the “SDS and Resources” section of each product page.

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