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What Are Antimicrobial Pesticides?

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Antimicrobial pesticides are substances or mixtures of substances used to destroy or suppress the growth of harmful microorganisms whether bacteria, viruses, or fungi on inanimate objects and surfaces. Antimicrobial products contain about 275 different active ingredients and are marketed in several formulations: sprays, liquids, concentrated powders, and gases.

Today, approximately one billion dollars each year are spent on a variety of different types of antimicrobial products. More than 5000 antimicrobial products are currently registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and sold in the marketplace. Nearly 60% of antimicrobial products are registered to control infectious microorganisms in hospitals and other health care environments.

Major Uses

Antimicrobial pesticides have two major uses:

  1. disinfect, sanitize, reduce, or mitigate growth or development of microbiological organisms;

  2. protect inanimate objects (for example floors and walls), industrial processes or systems, surfaces, water, or other chemical substances from contamination, fouling, or deterioration caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, algae, or slime.

These uses do not include certain pesticides intended for food use; but do encompass pesticides with a wide array of other uses. For example:

Types of Antimicrobial Products

Antimicrobial products are divided into two categories based on the type of microbial pest against which the product works:

Non-public health products are used to control growth of:

Public health products are intended to control microorganisms infectious to humans in any inanimate environment. The more commonly used public health antimicrobial products include the following:

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