Protection against coronavirus among false or misleading claims
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered Amazon Services LLC and eBay Inc. to stop selling a wide range of pesticide products. These products are unregistered, misbranded, or restricted-use pesticides, and pesticide devices that make false or misleading claims. As two of the largest e-commerce marketplaces, both companies oversee millions of product listings, thru either direct or third-party sales. The products subject to EPA’s orders also include several products that are marketed with false or misleading claims of efficacy against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.
“These stop sale orders to Amazon and eBay demonstrate the Trump Administration’s continued commitment to protecting the health and safety of Americans,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “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. 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.”
“American consumers need to know that the pesticide products they purchase online are effective and safe for their use,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “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.”
“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,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Chris Hladick.
In April, Administrator Wheeler held discussions with Amazon, eBay, and other e-marketplaces on the availability of products that are unregistered, are registered but may be used only by trained applicators, or that make unsubstantiated and potentially dangerous claims. Despite those discussions, Amazon and eBay have thus far failed to consistently keep unregistered, misbranded, or restricted-use pesticides, and pesticide devices off their websites.
EPA’s action prohibits Amazon and eBay from distributing, selling, or offering for sale the products listed on the tables attached to the stop sale orders.
None of the pesticides in the Amazon order are registered with EPA – which is a requirement for sale in the U.S. – and thus did not undergo a rigorous scientific process to ensure effectiveness and safety. Products that have been properly registered bear EPA-approved labeling evaluated to protect users by giving important information on safety and use.
In addition to unregistered pesticides, the eBay order includes pesticides classified for restricted use. It is unlawful to sell these types of products to the general public because they have the potential to cause injury to human health and the environment without additional restrictions.
In its orders, EPA also notes that the labeling of some of the unregistered or misbranded pesticides and pesticide devices includes the following violative statements:
- “Kills COVID-19”
- “Complete sterilization including the current pandemic virus”
- “Coronavirus disinfectant”
- “2020 Coronavirus Protection Coronavirus Protection Clearance Sale”
- “A Powerful, Green, Non-Toxic Solution Proven to Inactivate our current viral strain”
- “Epidemic Prevention”
- “Efficient disinfection to prevent the spread of disease”
- “Help keep your family and those you care for healthy”
- “Nontoxic causes no permanent injuries”
- “Ingredients are biodegradable and have no harmful impact on the environment”
- “There is no damage to the environment”
- “You can easily purify the living environment”
- “Safe for all people using”
- “Gentle to Child & Pets”
- “Chemical Free”
The devices listed on the tables attached to the orders also lack EPA establishment numbers from where the products were produced.
A particularly egregious example of the products found on Amazon is a product containing Chlorine Dioxide. There are several versions of the product that keep appearing on the Amazon site each with very little to no English-language instructions. The products are being sold with unprovable claims of sanitizing and disinfecting hospitals, offices and homes.
Product listings on eBay.com included 55-gallon drums of Methylene Chloride that were marketed for use as a coronavirus disinfectant and paint stripper. Not only is Methylene Chloride unapproved for use against the novel coronavirus, under the Toxic Substances Control Act, EPA banned the retail sale of Methylene Chloride to consumers for paint removal purposes due to acute fatalities that resulted from exposure to the chemical.
Another product, Virus Shut Out, claimed to be a spatial disinfection card that would provide coronavirus protection to the wearer. Virus Shut Out was subject to previous enforcement by EPA. Yet another product, Xtreme-Bio, claimed to be exempt from EPA regulation and made entirely with “clean, green, safe, environmentally friendly ingredients” while also claiming to deactivate the virus causing COVID-19.
Today’s stop sale orders 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.
To view the Amazon Services LLC stop sale order, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/stop-sale-use-or-removal-order-issued-amazoncom-services-llc
To view the eBay Inc. stop sale order, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/stop-sale-use-or-removal-order-issued-ebay-inc
In 2018, Amazon Services LLC settled allegations that Amazon committed nearly four thousand violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act – dating back to 2013 – for selling and distributing foreign pesticide products that were not licensed for sale in the United States.