The Use of Chemicals in HVAC systems – Part 2

EPA Requirements

Interesting enough, at the present time, the EPA has not accepted any disinfectant, sanitizer or fungicidal products for use in the ductwork of HVAC systems. However, some of these products are accepted for use in other parts of HVAC systems. Those products which have been accepted by the EPA for use in the ductwork of HVAC systems includes ones with the following claims:

  • Fungistatic
  • Bacteriostatic
  • Inhibits odor-causing bacteria and fungi
  • Inhibits stain and damage-causing bacteria, fungi, and algae
  • Deodorizes
  • Inhibits fungi and algae
  • Cleaning (a non pesticidal activity; removal of contaminants)

All antimicrobial pesticides for use in HVAC systems are required to be registered by the EPA. Products without specific HVAC directions are not to be used on these surfaces. The EPA evaluates products based on the directions for use listed on the label. Products used incorrectly or in incorrect amounts are more than likely not going to be effective.

All labels should include the following information:

  • Specific pest(s) against which the product is effective (meaning that the product has only passed the testing requirements for those organisms listed on the label).
  • Sites (homes, hospitals, etc.) and surfaces (e.g., cooling coil) to which the product may be applied. This means that the product may only be used at those sites and on those surfaces which are identified on the label.
  • Type of equipment or method used to apply the product including application rate and contact time.
  • How often the product is applied. Reapply as directed by the label.
  • In order for the product to be effective it must be used in accordance with the directions for use (application method and rate, and dwell time).
  • Pesticide manufacturers may make available a diluted-solution or secondary-container-use label (which must be consistent with the EPA-approved label) when using concentrated products.

 Typical Use of Antimicrobial Products:

  • The major use of antimicrobial products in HVAC systems is for the inhibition of microbial growth on hard surfaces within components such as air handlers, fans and duct interiors.
  • Disinfectant products may be used in coils, drain pans, and other parts of the air handler.
  • HVAC components that have been exposed to flood water or sewage contamination should be assumed to contain disease-causing organisms and should be disinfected prior to being placed back into service. Since no disinfectants are registered for use in air ducts, systems that have been exposed to contamination from floods, sewage, or similar biological contamination must be evaluated by a qualified individual prior to being placed back into service. Cleaning alone may or may not be satisfactory. Replacement of such duct sections may be necessary.
  • Products chosen must include label directions detailing use in HVAC systems and their components and those directions must be followed.

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