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Disinfectant Claiming to Prevent COVID-19 Barred from US

Posted on March 30, 2020 by Lauren Scott

EPA has barred an illegal disinfectant claiming to kill SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, from entering US ports in Honolulu and Guam.

EPA says the product has not been evaluated for safety and efficacy against viruses as required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In addition, its labeling and directions for use were not provided in the English language as required by law. EPA also allegedly found online advertising materials containing misleading claims about the product’s safety and effectiveness.

The disinfectant was imported from Japan and Hong Kong and had been advertised on Amazon until Federal authorities alerted the online retailer. Amazon has since removed the listing from its online storefront.

Why Are Disinfectants Registered Under FIFRA?

FIFRA defines a pesticide as "any substance or mixture… intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest" [40 CFR 152.3].

Determining what is classified as a pest under EPA regulations is a little more complicated. According to FIFRA, a pest is "any fungus, bacterium, virus, prion, or other microorganism, except for those on or in living man or other living animals and those on or in processed food or processed animal feed, beverages, drugs … and cosmetics" [40 CFR 152.5].

Since disinfectants are designed to kill or repel bacteria and germs before they enter the body, these products can be regulated as a pesticide under FIFRA.

EPA 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 can be harmful to human health, cause adverse effects, and may not be effective against the spread of germs.

FIFRA also prohibits public health claims in advertising and labeling of these products until they have been properly tested and are registered with the US government.

EPA’s List of Approved Disinfectants for SARS-CoV-2

EPA has released an expanded list of EPA-registered disinfecting products that have qualified for use against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The list contains nearly 300 additional products—including products that went through the expedited review process for emerging viral pathogens.

Expert EPA Compliance Training

Log on to the Complete Environmental Regulations online course to learn the latest regulations for registering and using pesticides under FIFRA. This online course covers critical elements of EPA's major environmental programs, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, EPCRA, and more. Get up to speed with new rules and build strategies to ensure ongoing compliance with the bevy of EPA rules that affect your operations.