The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it a dramatic increase in the demand for disinfectants to help mitigate against the spread of the virus, and now, more than ever, there is a critical need for safe disinfecting products that do not pose unnecessary risk to consumers, says industrial cleaning product manufacturer Industroclean.
In 2017, the Department of Trade and Industry published an Amendment of the Compulsory Specification for Chemical Disinfectants (VC 8054), which will come into effect in October.
This legislation includes compulsory testing and labelling of chemical disinfectants and means that, once implemented, consumers can be satisfied that chemical disinfectants for sale in South Africa must comply with the minimum safety requirements and must be registered by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS).
Industroclean quality systems internal auditor Lee O’Reilly explains that these regulations apply to chemical disinfectants that are used on hard surfaces in the food, industrial, domestic and health industries to kill microorganisms.
They do not apply to products for use on people or animals.
O’Reilly adds that the new amendments will include specifications for several types of microorganisms.
“Whereas the previous regulations focused mostly on those chemical disinfectants which kill bacteria, the new regulations bring us in line with European standards and include specifications for other microorganisms, like viruses, spores and fungi,” she says.
These amendments, which were first contemplated as far back as 2015, would require that all chemical disinfectants must comply with the specified minimum safety requirements and must be registered by the NRCS. This includes strict rules for the labelling of products.
O’Reilly explains that the label or package insert must contain all relevant information, including clearly stating the microorganisms that the product is effective against and clear instructions on how the product should be used.
She adds that all labels must also include warnings, handling and storage information, compatibility with other substances and the first aid measures to be taken for different levels of contact, for example skin irritation, in eyes or if swallowed.
“All products must be tested for effectiveness against the various categories of microorganism. Testing requirements for chemical disinfectants used in the food, industrial, domestic and institutional areas will be different to the tests for use in the medical area,” she explains.
For consumers, these new regulations would mean that they can rest assured that the chemical disinfectant they buy has been tested, is within its expiry date and is safe to use − if used as indicated on the label.
O’Reilly cautions, however, that there are many noncompliant products on the market which range from coloured water to hazardous substances that can pose a serious threat to both the environment and human lives.
“The new amendments have been put in place to safeguard the environment and protect consumers. Buying cheap, unregistered disinfectants may be tempting for consumers, but these can cause serious health conditions, including lung conditions, skin peeling and allergic reactions,” she says.