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By Tristan Roberts, HPDC, Director of Technical and Education Programs

Many of our manufacturer and architecture members have been contacting us to ask about up-to-date research on antimicrobials and health issues. As one manufacturer wrote:
“Within last 48 hours, I received many antimicrobial requests in our products from sales field. I am afraid that the COVID-19 has turned many of our customers to this solution as a potential safety measure. However, we know that the antimicrobial additives in products aren’t proven to be helpful in preventing the spreading of virus and bacteria and some of them are harmful to the indoor environment. Their function is to protect the material/product itself.”
One intent of the HPD all along has been to prevent regrettable substitutions — switching out one problem for another. Hygiene is more critical than ever in the era of COVID-19, but widespread use of antimicrobials and cleaning chemicals may not be effective in killing the coronavirus. And many of these chemicals are known to cause other health and environmental issues.
Drawing from the expertise we have gathered on our Technical Committees, HPDC is convening a working group to share research and perspectives on this issue. We look forward to reporting out to a wider audience with any findings or recommendations—stay tuned! If you have questions or input on this issue, please email me at
Manufacturers, designers, and many others are tasked with making consequential public-health decisions as part of this ongoing crisis. You can make those decisions informed by the consistent, reliable data reporting protocols and datasets we have put in place via the work of HPDC over the last 10 years. You can use tools with unprecedented utility such as Pharos to research chemicals. You can use forums to discuss difficult topics such as HPDC’s Technical Sub-Groups, and working groups.
Now, imagine the current crisis without the work we have all undertaken over the last decade. What a difference it will make! We have a lot to do, but we are fortunate not to have to invent these concepts in the midst of this crisis.
Tristan Roberts is Director of Technical and Education Programs for HPDC. You can reach him with comments and feedback at