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Determining if a Cleaning Product is a Pesticide under FIFRA (Updated January 2011)

Due to questions and concerns with regards to certain label claims for cleaning products, EPA has put forth a fact sheet on “Determining if a Cleaning Product is a Pesticide under FIFRA” to describe the Agency’s interpretation of the statutory and regulatory language applicable to products marketed as cleaning products.

FIFRA defines a “pesticide” as “any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest,” and unless otherwise exempted from registration, pesticide products that are intended for a pesticidal purpose must be registered. A product is considered to be intended for a pesticidal purpose if, among other things, the person who distributes or sells it claims, state or implies that the product prevents, destroys, repels or mitigates a pest. Therefore, if a product label, or other statement made in connection with the sale or distribution of the product, includes any claim of pest mitigation, the product is considered to be intended for pesticidal purposes and becomes subject to the registration provisions of FIFRA.

While FIFRA regulation states that cleaning agents are not pesticides because they are not intended to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate a pest, the regulation also states that these types of products are not pesticides only if no pesticidal claim is made on their labeling or in connection with their sale and distribution. Therefore, if a claim or implication is made in connection with the sale or distribution of a cleaning product that its use will mitigate a pest, either by itself or in combination with any other substance, the product is considered to be intended for a pesticidal purpose and required to be registered.

Update: EPA has made several changes concerning pesticidal claims on unregistered cleaning products that include:

▲ Changing “Cleans or removes algae or mold stain” from a pesticidal to a non-pesticidal claim
▲ Adding the following example of a non-pesticidal claim for use of a dispersant or adjuvant – “An adjuvant or dispersant which cleans, washes or prepares
the surface for application of a registered disinfectant intended to kill biofilm”
▲ Adding the word “soil” as an example so it reads “Cleans or removes dirt, soil, dust, debris, scum, inanimate nutrients, inanimate organic particulates
or inanimate contaminants”
▲ Revising the section on Claims That the Agency May or May Not Consider to Be Pesticidal

To view the full “Determining if a Cleaning Product is a Pesticide under FIFRA” fact sheet, click
here.

For more information, please Contact TSG.
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