The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered Amazon and eBay to stop selling products that falsely claim to kill coronavirus. Around 70 products were specified in the EPA’s order, including paint stripper, tablets containing chlorine dioxide and disinfectant sprays, all of which were marketed as antidotes to COVID-19, and in some cases, touted as “preventing epidemics.” Failure to comply with the notice could cost the companies up to $20,288 per sale.
According to the EPA, both companies have a duty of care to their customers, even though these products may be sold by third-party sellers. Speaking to Bloomberg, EPA associate deputy administrator Doug Benevento said, “eBay and Amazon certainly have a legal obligation, but also sort of a corporate obligation to ensure products like this aren’t on their site.” He added that the EPA has targeted the ecommerce marketplaces directly in order to most effectively cut off the sale of products “that are ineffective or potentially dangerous to people.”
This will be eBay’s first stop-sale notice from the EPA, but marks the fourth for Amazon within the past five years — the company has frequently been found to facilitate unregistered pesticide sales. It also comes as another indictment of the way it’s handled its operations during the coronavirus pandemic. The company has been criticized for its poor response to price gouging, and is now the subject of a lawsuit because of its alleged failure to keep workers safe.