As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, new and additional disinfection methods have become available. Because not all of these products fall under the same legislation, there are some on the market today whose efficacy and safety have not been evaluated by an independent body. This is especially true for disinfection products that use ozone or UV-C radiation and pose a risk of exposure. This last group includes portable UV lamps and wristbands. RIVM recommends against using these products. Ozone can lead to respiratory problems and UV radiation can cause health problems such as skin and eye irritation.

Safety and efficacy not always assured due to differences in legislation

During the coronavirus pandemic, new disinfection method applications appeared on the market. To protect users, RIVM has created an overview of these and indicated which legislation they fall under.

The safety and efficacy of biocides, medicines and medical devices are assessed by an independent body. The safety and efficacy of disinfection methods that fall under the Dutch Commodities Act are only evaluated by the manufacturer. An independent assessment would provide further assurance. In the overview, RIVM describes how users and vendors can see under which law a disinfectant has been evaluated.

Ozone and UV-C radiation potentially unsafe

Portable lamps and wristbands that use UV-C radiation fall under the Dutch Commodities Act. According to RIVM, these products are not safe enough because there is a chance that people or animals could be exposed to too much of this radiation. Ozone, which is used to disinfect air and indoor spaces, currently falls under the Commodities Act as well. Too much ozone can cause respiratory problems.

Cosmetics – such as cleansing hand gels – and cleaning products may look like disinfectants, but they are not. These types of products should therefore not be used as disinfectants. Disinfecting hand gels, on the other hand, are indeed disinfectants.

Legislation not always clear

For some products intended for disinfection, it is not always clear which law they fall under. RIVM recommends that the relevant enforcers and admission authorities work together to ensure clarity.

Need for research into effectiveness of disinfectants

Efficacious disinfectants kill pathogens. However, this does not automatically ensure effectiveness of disinfection products – in other words, that they ensure that pathogens are less likely to be transmitted between people. RIVM recommends researching which disinfection methods are effective against pathogens like the coronavirus. This can help to reduce the unnecessary use of disinfectants, which decreases the chance that pathogens will become resistant to these products.