EU Process threatens availability of ethanol in infection prevention
Ethanol is in the process of being approved as a biocide at the EU level. Within this framework, a harmonized classification and labeling is being discussed, which foresees for ethanol to be classified as CMR (carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic). However, if ethanol is absorbed through the skin in small amounts, no adverse health effects are expected. So far, risk assessment and exposure do not play a role in the classification process.
A CMR classification of ethanol will have serious implications for infection control. For example, ethanol-based products may no longer be distributed to the public or used in the healthcare sector by patients and medical professionals after being classified as CMR.
Ethanol is an essential component of infection control
The current COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that ethanol is a highly effective and quickly available alcohol for preventing and fighting infections. Ethanol is a highly important component in targeting enveloped viruses (e.g. SARS-CoV-2) and, more importantly, non-enveloped viruses (e.g., caliciviruses and enteroviruses).
Although other alcohols (e.g. propanols) are available on the market, they are not equally effective. Therefore, to be prepared for future pandemics, the availability of ethanol as a disinfectant must be ensured.
Please find our current position paper here.