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EPA Administrator Wheeler Talks with Retailers and Third-Party Marketplace Platforms to Discuss Steps to Protect American Consumers from Fraudulent Coronavirus Disinfectant Claims

04/03/2020
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WASHINGTON (April 3, 2020) — This morning, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler hosted an interactive telephone call with U.S. retailers and third-party marketplace platforms to discuss imposter disinfectant products and those that falsely claim to be effective against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19. Through tips, complaints, and research, the agency is learning of the availability of such products marketed with unsubstantiated and potentially dangerous claims of protection against the coronavirus and has enlisted the help of the retail community to prevent these products from coming to market.

“There is no higher priority for the Trump Administration than protecting the health and safety of Americans,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Our discussion this morning was both informative and productive, and together, we will work diligently to ensure that consumers have access to EPA-approved and verified surface disinfectant products; products that we know to be effective against the novel coronavirus. We are committed to doing our share to provide Americans with the information they need to protect their families.”

“Ensuring all Americans have access to safe and effective disinfectant products as we fight to flatten the curve of COVID-19 is a top priority for leading retailers,” said Michael Hanson, Senior Executive Vice President, Public Affairs, Retail Industry Leaders Association. “RILA members have robust compliance programs in place and work closely with trusted suppliers to ensure that all products that they sell meet or exceed all applicable U.S. safety standards and legal requirements. RILA is proud to partner with the EPA to raise consumer awareness over unvetted and unlawful COVID claims. Unscrupulous actors should not be allowed to dupe the American public during this crisis, and leading retailers are ready to work with the EPA to shine a light on false claims.”

“The retail industry is working hard to police and stop those who are trying to take advantage of this pandemic by selling fraudulent disinfectant products,” said David French, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the National Retail Federation. “This issue requires a collective effort to protect consumers and retailers, which is why the retail industry is working closely with EPA to remove fraudulent products from the marketplace as soon as possible.”

“It is very important to us to maintain customer trust in the products we offer in store and online, especially during this uncertain time when customers are focused on making choices to help keep their families and communities safe,” said Lance Lanciault, Walmart Senior Vice President and eCommerce Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer. “Customer trust is a major reason we have rigorous policies governing the products that can be sold on our website and we develop marketplace seller and item policies holding third party sellers accountable to only sell disinfecting products which meet required EPA guidelines.”

“We welcome Administrator Wheeler and the EPA’s collaboration and continued vigilance in this area, said Carletta Ooton, Vice President, Safety, Sustainability, Security & Compliance at Amazon. “Amazon requires sellers provide accurate information on detail pages and we have processes in place to proactively block inaccurate claims about COVID-19. We have also developed specific tools for COVID-19 that run 24/7 and scan for any inaccurate claims our initial block may have missed. Together, our efforts have blocked or removed more than 6.5 million products and we fully support efforts by the EPA, DOJ, and other federal partners to prosecute bad actors.”

“Our priority at eBay remains ensuring the safety of our customers and employees around the world. We have been closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and have taken significant measures to block or quickly remove items from our marketplace that are unsafe, make false health claims or violate our price gouging policy,” said Mike Carson, Director, Global Policy and Regulatory Management at eBay. “We share the EPA’s concerns about protecting consumers and will continue to collaborate on this important issue.”

Based on tips, complaints, and research, the agency has identified products that have not gone through EPA’s robust registration process under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and are not legal for sale in the United States. These unregistered, illegal products are touting anti-viral, antibacterial, disinfectant, sterilizing, or sanitizing properties. EPA registration is an important process that ensures products work as claimed and users are provided directions that, when followed, achieve the intended functions, e.g., disinfection, while preventing unreasonable adverse health and environmental consequences.    

EPA only registers disinfectants that can be used effectively against the novel coronavirus on surfaces. Non-registered products may not effectively eliminate the virus or reduce the spread of the virus and could even be harmful to consumers’ health. Consumers should refer to “List N” for EPA-registered disinfectants that the agency has determined to be safe and effective against the novel coronavirus.

Also discussed on the call were EPA’s efforts to work with retailers and third-party marketplaces to ensure that only safe, effective and approved disinfectant products are available for sale to the U.S. public. EPA is also coordinating with the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal partners to bring the full force of the law against those selling fraudulent or unregistered products.

The following is a list of some of the unregistered products that have been identified. EPA typically enforces FIFRA through stop-sale orders and penalty actions authorized under the Act. The agency cannot comment on any ongoing investigations, but is providing the information below to ensure that Americans have as much information as possible to help them protect themselves from COVID-19.

  • Lanyards that claim to protect wearers from coronavirus
  • Unregistered disinfectant tablets
    • Epidemic prevention Chlorinating Tablets Disinfectant Chlorine Tablets Swimming Pool Instant Disinfection Tablets Chlorine Dioxide Effervescent Tablet Chlorine Disinfectant 100g Cozy apposite Fun Suit
    • The Flu Virus Buster, CLO2 Disinfection Sticker, Removable sterilize air purifier, Anti COVID-19, Stop Coronavirus disease infection /Influenza Buster Disinfectant 1 Box / 10 Tablets
  • Unregistered disinfectant sprays
    • Fullene silver antibacterial solution/24 Hour Defense Hand Sanitizer Disinfectant Spray Against Corona Virus COVID- 19 Kills 99.99% Of Germs Bacteria 24 Hours Of Lasting Protection Alcohol Free 50ml (1.7 fl. oz)
  • Unregistered disinfectant wipes
    • 99.9% Sterilization Wipes/16/32/48/64/96pcs Sterilization Rate of 99% Disinfection Wet Wipes and Paper Napkin Prevention of Coronavirus

Additional information: www.epa.gov/coronavirus

Background

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), products that claim to kill or repel bacteria or viruses on environmental surfaces are considered pesticides and must be registered by EPA prior to distribution or sale. Public health claims can only be made for products that have been properly tested and are registered with EPA. The agency will not register a pesticide until it has been determined that it will not pose an unreasonable risk when used according to the label directions. Products not registered by EPA may be harmful to human health, cause adverse health effects, and may not be effective against the spread of viruses or other pathogens.