Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon and eBay have become digital hotspots for all things retail. With so many brick-and-mortar stores closed as states across the country shut down, these websites became a go-to resource for stocking up on supplies — including masks, medicine, disinfectants and other healthcare products.
With so many people relying on these online marketplaces, the scammers of the web saw a perfect opportunity to rip desperate people off. Between price gouging ordinary products and shilling phony COVID-19 treatments, avoiding scammers has become increasingly difficult. Tap or click here to see how some scammers got away jacking prices up.
But the powers that be have finally said: “Enough is enough!” The EPA is now telling Amazon and eBay to stop allowing sellers to market dangerous chemicals as COVID-19 treatments. If you plan on doing some online shopping in the near future, here’s what you need to know.
EPA to Amazon and eBay: ‘Pesticides can’t kill coronavirus.’
The EPA is finally bringing the hammer down on shady online retailers peddling dangerous chemicals as disinfectants and COVID-19 treatments.
According to a new alert posted by the agency, the EPA has contacted both Amazon and eBay about sellers fraudulently marketing chemicals in their online stores and is demanding the listings be removed to protect shoppers. The products in question aren’t actually disinfectants or soaps at all, but toxic pesticides created for industrial use.
Some eBay and Amazon sellers are describing these products with language implying that they’re safe for at-home use and will either kill or neutralize coronavirus particles. Not only are these statements scientifically unsound, using these chemicals at home can actually cause more harm to your health.
Related: Tap or click here to read the FDA warning about fake coronavirus cures and treatments.
In fact, many of the pesticides in question are actually restricted for industrial use as well, and pose an “immediate health risk to consumers, children, pets, and others exposed to the products.” What’s more, most of these chemicals are sold by overseas merchants and have not been approved for domestic sales by the EPA — a legal requirement for any pesticide.
As per the “stop sale” alert, Amazon and eBay have already started to remove listings across the board. That said, it’s unlikely they’ll catch everything all at once — especially as sellers change their language and product descriptions around to slide under the radar.
How can I spot the chemicals and pesticides eBay and Amazon miss?
Thankfully, you don’t need to do a lot of legwork to avoid getting duped by a quack COVID-19 treatment. To protect yourself from coronavirus particles, you don’t need anything more than good old soap and hand sanitizers, which are in short supply, unfortunately. Alternative chemicals are not recommended, and shouldn’t even be considered in the first place.
That said, here is a list of product descriptions used by some of the frequent offenders that the EPA discovered during its investigations:
- “Kills COVID-19”
- “Complete sterilization including the current pandemic virus”
- “Coronavirus disinfectant”
- “2020 Coronavirus Protection Coronavirus Protection Clearance Sale”
- “A Powerful, Green, Non-Toxic Solution Proven to Inactivate our current viral strain”
- “Epidemic Prevention”
- “Efficient disinfection to prevent the spread of disease”
- “Help keep your family and those you care for healthy”
- “Nontoxic causes no permanent injuries”
- “Ingredients are biodegradable and have no harmful impact on the environment”
- “There is no damage to the environment”
- “You can easily purify the living environment”
- “Safe for all people using”
- “Gentle to Child & Pets”
- “Chemical Free”
These descriptions, the EPA notes, actually violate agency rules due to inaccuracy and misleading claims.
As a perfect example, advertising a pesticide as “chemical-free” is pure hogwash. Nothing made of matter on planet Earth is “chemical-free.” Even water is technically a chemical compound (and is also called “oxidane” or the spooky “dihydrogen monoxide” by some chemists).
Another red flag to look out for is the language on the packaging. Many of these products are sold by China-based merchants, and as such, contain Chinese characters on the packaging. Environmental protection and safety laws differ greatly in other countries, which is why the EPA is so concerned with the proliferation of potentially dangerous chemicals.
Related: Tap or click here to see the COVID-19 phishing sites with fake treatments to watch out for.
In the end, if you use your best judgment, you’ll probably be safe. Just be aware that a can of Raid won’t do jack against coronavirus. We may call illnesses “bugs,” but roach-killer won’t have any effect at all.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.