The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday instructed Amazon and eBay to discontinue selling certain pesticide containing products, which claim to fight off and sanitize a person against the deadly coronavirus.
Chlorine dioxide and methylene chloride, are two federally regulated toxic substances and have categorically being banned as products with toxic chemicals, as these were found in the products being sold by the e-commerce sites.
According to an EPA release, eBay marketed and sold 55-gallon drums of methylene chloride as a coronavirus disinfectant and paint stripper, which can potentially cause death in certain cases.
eBay was ordered to immediately stop selling more than 40 products, and Amazon over 30 products as some of them falsely claimed to provide “Epidemic Prevention,” “2020 Coronavirus Protection” and “complete sterilization including the current pandemic virus,” according to a press release by EPA. Both Amazon and eBay sold unregistered products that were not evaluated by the agency.
Both Amazon and eBay still had methylene chloride listed on their websites, which is “unapproved for use against the novel coronavirus,” the agency said.
Any company that manufactures and distributes any pesticide-containing products is required by law to register the product with the EPA.
In one case, the EPA said Amazon had sold multiple versions of a disinfectant that claimed to sanitize hospitals, offices, and homes, that contained chlorine dioxide, a hazardous gas that is connected to respiratory and lung issues. The products did not have even English-language directions for usage.
‘Amid the coronavirus pandemic, we have taken significant measures to block or quickly remove items from our marketplace that are unsafe, make false health claims or violate our zero-tolerance price gouging policy,” eBay said in a statement.
The companies also sold products that were mislabeled or lacked application directions, ingredients, and safety information on chemicals in the products. The agency informed that its Administrator Andrew Wheeler held discussions with the retailers in April on these illegal products.
“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 added.
An Amazon spokesperson informed NPR that “Amazon requires that sellers provide accurate information on product detail pages and put processes in place to proactively block inaccurate claims about COVID-19 before they are published to our store. We removed the products in question and are taking action against the bad actors who listed them “.
The company further added that it is developing tools to scan for inaccurate claims.
This is not the first time Amazon has come under scrutiny for such a sale. In 2018, the company paid a penalty of $1.2 million for selling banned pesticides.