The Coronavirus pandemic impacted pest management companies in ways that very few could have predicted back at the beginning of 2020. But less than a year later, the industry has changed the services it provides and ways they are delivered. Disinfection services are the prime example of the spirit of ingenuity and entrepreneurship that is the cornerstone of the pest management industry. True to form, some companies are turning obstacles into opportunities to help protect the health of their communities by delivering disinfection services.
At NPMA’s Legislative Day Conference, held in Washington, DC in early March, most could not have predicted that in less than a month, pest control firms from coast to coast would have entirely new service lines fully operational. To mobilize such as effort, member companies, suppliers, federal agencies and state lead agencies worked together to facilitate the implementation of a new service necessitated by this public health emergency.
FEDERAL REGULATORY ENGAGEMENT
In addition to daily updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and frequent information provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about keeping the pest control industry’s 150,000 essential workers healthy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). This list, published online, identified all products registered by EPA that meet their criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). The searchable database allows users to filter antimicrobial products by use site, active ingredient or contact time. Additionally, EPA fast-tracked registrant amendment requests for EPA-registered surface disinfectants wishing to add an emerging viral pathogen claim for SARS-CoV-2 to their labels. This was an important and necessary regulatory move to ensure that applicators could easily identify what products were effective against the virus, since no products were labeled for SARS-CoV-2 at the beginning of the pandemic. Further, EPA stepped up enforcement efforts regarding unregistered disinfectant products and those making false claims to control the virus, including sev-eral high-profile actions against major online retailers Amazon and eBay.
NPMA DISINFECTION SERVICES TASKFORCE MEMBERS
- Lonnie Alonso, Columbus Pest Control
- Lanny Allgood, Cingo
- Dan Baldwin, Terminix International
- David Billingsly, Anticimex
- Judy Black, Rollins, Inc.
- Chris Gorecki, Rollins, Inc.
- Marie Horner, Arrow Exterminators
- Dennis Jenkins, ABC Home & Commercial Services
- Kevin Lemasters, EnviroPest
- Julie Marquardt, Ecolab, Inc.
- Galvin Murphy, Yankee Pest Control
- Ashley Roden, Sprague Pest Solutions
- Scott Steckel, Plunkett’s Pest Control
- Chris Wible, Rentokil-Steritech
STATE LEAD AGENCY SUPPORT
As it became clear in early March that member companies were con-sidering disinfection services to better serve their clients, NPMA staff worked to identify what licensing and certification requirements, if any, existed in the states. Initially, NPMA reached out to the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO) and the American Association of Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO) with a request to survey their members to determine if additional licensing, beyond structural pest control credentials, was necessary. NPMA quickly learned that requirements varied drastically from state to state. In some places, no licensing is required at all, in others, a pest control license is sufficient. In a few states (Alabama, Georgia and Minnesota), the state lead agency issued license waivers and/or emergency rules allowing pest control companies to apply antimicrobial products with their existing license for a set period of time, or until the state’s governor lifted the state of emergency. NPMA staff made this information available to the industry in a document housed on the Coronavirus webpage that was updated in real time as new information was collected.
NPMA RESOURCES FOR DISINFECTION SERVICES
In mid-April, NPMA presented a webinar for the industry titled COVID-19 Disinfection Services: Critical Things to Consider Before Launching a New Service. 503 people attended the live, one-hour webinar, featuring representatives from Ecolab, American Pest/Anticimex and Rollins who discussed critical items to consider before launching dis-infection services. In May, NPMA presented a second webinar focused on practical disinfection information from a disease prevention perspective titled Understanding Disinfection Principles and Personal Protection for COVID-19 Disinfection Services. 227 people attended this webinar led by Dr. Terri Rebmann, a board-certified infectious disease expert and professor of epidemiology at St. Louis University. Dr. Rebmann addressed how to disinfect and sanitize surfaces appropriately and reviewed specific risks that pest management professionals may encounter and how to protect employee health and safety while on the job. Recordings of both webinars are available on the NPMA Coronavirus website.
As companies consider incorporating disinfection services into their business operations, NPMA has urged that members investigate staffing and safety concerns, product and equipment availability, insurance requirements and service agreements. A sample service agreement is available from NPMA for members to review (always get an attorney’s help when developing a new service agreement to ensure that it com-plies with applicable laws in your state).
In June, NPMA President Scott Steckel and NPMA Immediate Past President Chris Gorecki appointed a member taskforce charged with determining what resources NPMA should provide for members performing disinfection services. The taskforce is made up members from both large and small companies representing firms that are both providing disinfection services as well as those who have elected not to provide the service. The taskforce’s initial focus is to develop and publish a white paper outlining information for NPMA members who are performing disinfection services or considering adding the service to their businesses.
NPMA will continue to work hard to support member companies’ efforts to serve their communities through traditional pest control services as well as new “outside-the-box” offerings. If you have questions about disinfection services or want to learn more, visit www.pestcontrolcoronavirus.com or email Jim Fredericks, NPMA’s V.P. of Technical and Regulatory Affairs, at email@example.com.
BY JIM FREDERICKS, PH.D., BCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF TECHNICAL AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS, NPMA