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Watch Out for Bogus Flu Fighters

By Beth Mirza  12/2/2009
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a warning to consumers to beware of vendors selling “ineffective and unregistered products” to kill the H1N1 flu virus. Some products and services claim to disinfect surfaces and entire rooms from the virus, also known as swine flu.

“Unfortunately, some vendors may try to take advantage of people’s fears at a time like this and market products that aren’t effective or make unsubstantiated claims,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. “Americans need to be aware of what they may be buying.”

Unscrupulous vendors have marketed products that claim to disinfect rooms and sterilize air by releasing a fog. The EPA has registered disinfectants for use only on hard surfaces, not for use on porous surfaces such as carpeting and drapes. Products approved by the EPA must state on the label that the product is registered for the influenza A virus, according to an EPA press release.

A list of more than 500 antimicrobial products registered by the EPA for use against the influenza A virus and H1N1 on hard surfaces is available here: http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/influenza-disinfectants.html.

While employers and employees should remain vigilant in fighting the flu by washing their hands and cleaning common work areas (see http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Nov. 30, 2009, that the number of visits to doctors for influenza-like illnesses across the country had dropped for the fourth consecutive week. However, hospitalization rates remained higher than expected for the time of year, according to FluView, a CDC update. Thirty-two states were reporting widespread flu activity, down from 43 states the week before. Almost all influenza viruses identified so far are the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus.

Beth Mirza is senior editor for HR News. She can be reached at Beth.Mirza@shrm.org.

 

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