EPA Orders Amazon, eBay to Remove Products Falsely Claiming to Eliminate COVID-19

On June 11, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed in a press release that it ordered Amazon.com, Inc. and eBay Inc. to cease selling pesticide products “that are falsely marketed as being effective against the novel coronavirus,” according to Reuters. The products in question are allegedly “unregistered, misbranded, or restricted-use pesticides, and pesticide devices that make false or misleading claims.”

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said continued transparency is meant to protect Americans from injury. “We remain vigilant against the claims of producers that falsely assert their efficacy and safety. Of particular concern are products that falsely claim to be effective against COVID-19,” explained Wheeler. “It is our duty to continue transparent communication with the public on unregistered products that may cause injury to consumers, and immediately remove them from commerce.”

Susan Bodine, an EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, explained that this is not a novel transparency effort for the agency. “The orders we are issuing are two examples of EPA’s continuing commitment to stop unlawful sales of unregistered, mislabeled and restricted use pesticides on retail websites,” she said. EPA Region 10 Administrator Chris Hlalick notes the hazard of using unregistered products, saying, “The proliferation of unregistered pesticides in the e-commerce marketplace, especially during this unprecedented time, poses a significant and immediate health risk to consumers, children, pets, and others exposed to the products.”

In its press release, the EPA listed “violative statements” they claim are often found in the labeling for unregistered pesticide products, including, “Kills COVID-19,” “Coronavirus disinfectant,” and “Complete sterilization including the current pandemic virus.” As an example of an unregistered, mislabelled product found on Amazon, EPA mentions Chlorine Dioxide, of which it claims, “The products are being sold with unprovable claims of sanitizing and disinfecting hospitals, offices and homes.”

EPA comments on the stop-sale orders’ importance, saying they “are critical to protecting human health and the environment during the from misleading and harmful claims from two of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, especially during the COVID-19 public health emergency.”