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EPA Makes Good on Promise to Crack Down on Sham COVID-19 Cleaners and Disinfectants

April 29, 2020

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Key Points

  • EPA is marching forward with its plans to prevent sham COVID-19 cleaners and disinfectants from entering the marketplace.
  • Manufacturers should continue to adhere to EPA's policy regarding products that make disinfectant efficacy claims.
  • EPA warns consumers against injecting disinfectants into their bodies.

On April 23, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fulfilled its promise to regulate sham COVID-19 cleaners and disinfectants, noted in a prior Environmental Alert found here, by asking major online retail platforms, such as eBay, Facebook, Shopify, and Alibaba, to take measures to eliminate sales of illegal COVID-19 disinfectant products and cleaners that have not been approved for such use.

In a further blow to the sham-product manufacturers, EPA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection also announced the seizure of "more than 7,800 illegal products" entering the United States through international mail facilities at the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports. The agencies noted that the recently confiscated products came from Japan and Hong Kong, and include items like Virus Shut Out, as well as other similar products that do not comply with U.S. laws.

Relatedly, EPA announced last month that it would expedite the process to approve manufacturers' claims that their existing disinfectants will kill the new coronavirus. To elaborate, manufacturers may now add "emerging viral pathogens" claims to their already-registered surface disinfectant labels. To do so, manufacturers must describe how their products meet the eligibility criteria for use against one or more categories of “viral pathogens,” and also identify the virus or viruses on the existing product labels that the manufacturers are using to support the emerging pathogen claims. More information on eligibility can be found here. Thus far, nearly 400 products have been approved through the process.

Encouragingly— especially following President Trump’s remarks on April 24 suggesting that ingesting disinfectant products may combat COVID-19 and "clean" the virus out of the lungs—EPA continues to urge the public to pay close attention to labeling directions on EPA-registered disinfecting products, warning that these products should never be consumed, injected, or applied to human skin.

If you have any questions about environmental law, please reach out to one of Hanson Bridgett's Environmental Lawyers.

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