As part of the EPA registration process, disinfectant products are put through rigorous testing to prove their efficacy and measure toxicity. The EPA registers three types of disinfectants: Limited, General, and Hospital. All three disinfectants destroy or irreversibly inactivate certain microorganisms on hard, inanimate surfaces and objects.
You can determine a “limited,” “general,” or “hospital” disinfectant by the microorganisms listed on the label.
Limited must be supported by efficacy testing against either Salmonella cholerasuis or Staphylococcus aureus. Limited disinfectants are found mostly in household use.
General must be supported by efficacy testing against both Salmonella cholerasuis and Staphylococcus aureus. General disinfectants are used in commercial areas.
Hospital must be supported by AOAC Use Dilution or AOAC Germicidal Spray efficacy testing against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella cholerasuis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa hides behind biofilm and is difficult to eliminate. Killing this bacterium is required for “Hospital Disinfectant”.
Also, as part of this evaluation process, products are assigned to a toxicity category: The categories range from category 1 (highly toxic) to category 4 (no exposure warnings required on the label). Vital Oxide received an EPA category 4 rating for all exposure routes with the exception of mild eye irritation.