EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler Talks Disinfectant Products and False Claims of Effectiveness Against COVID-19
On April 3, 2020, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler hosted a call with retailers and third-party marketplace platforms to discuss EPA’s handling of products falsely claiming to be effective against COVID-19.
Through consumer tips and complaints, and by its own research, EPA has identified numerous unregistered products in the marketplace that are being advertised for use against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). EPA has a strict registration process for all pesticides (including disinfectants) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which ensures that pesticide products work as claimed and users are provided appropriate directions for effective use. Only when a product has been properly tested and registered with EPA can public health claims be made about the product’s effectiveness against certain diseases and viruses. The rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in scores of unregistered products being advertised and sold (frequently online) with dubious and unapproved efficacy claims regarding COVID-19. EPA and retailers are taking an aggressive approach to identifying these unregistered products and preventing their sale or distribution in the U.S.
The following is a list of some of the unregistered products that EPA has identified as making unproven claims with regard to COVID-19:
- Lanyards that claim to protect wearers from coronavirus
- “Virus Shut Out-Portable Protection Card-Virus Protection and Personal Health (5 PCS).”
- “Air Sterilization Card Disinfection Lanyard Protection Card Household Outdoor Antibacterial Sterilization Health Care.”
- 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.”
Before purchasing a pesticide product for use against COVID-19, consumers should refer to EPA’s List N to see if the product is an EPA-registered disinfectant that has been determined to be effective against COVID-19.
More information on Administrator Wheeler’s conversation with retailers and marketplace platforms can be found here.
For help navigating EPA’s policies and guidance with respect to COVID-19, contact Taft attorneys Chase Dressman, Kimberly DalSanto, Frank Deveau or Will Gardner.
Please visit our COVID-19 Toolkit for all of Taft’s updates on the coronavirus.
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