EPA bans sale of COVID-19 disinfectant authorized under Trump

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week issued an order stopping the sale of a disinfectant that the Trump administration granted emergency authorization to combat COVID-19.

The agency said in a news release Thursday that its investigators determined Allied BioScience, the maker of the disinfectant, was marketing, selling and distributing it in “ways that were inconsistent” with law, regulations and the terms and conditions of emergency authorizations.

The agency also said it was revoking an emergency exemption for the chemical, known as SurfaceWise2, in Arkansas and Texas because of “company misconduct described above and scientific concerns regarding product performance.”

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“Pesticides can cause serious harm to human health and the environment, which is why EPA requires their registration before being distributed for use,” said Larry Starfield, acting head of the agency’s law enforcement office, in a statement. “EPA is committed to holding companies accountable for not adhering to federal environmental laws.” 

SurfaceWise2 was originally approved for use in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, including on some American Airlines aircraft, at airport facilities and at orthopedic facilities.

The Trump administration had touted its approval of SurfaceWise 2, with then-EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerScience matters: Thankfully, EPA leadership once again agrees EPA bans sale of COVID-19 disinfectant authorized under Trump OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland reportedly recommends full restoration of monuments Trump altered | EPA to reinstate air pollution panel disbanded under Trump | State appeals court upholds approval of Minnesota pipeline MORE in November viewing a demonstration of its use in Texas.

“EPA had to adapt to the coronavirus outbreak by creating a new permitting process that could allow innovative new products to be quickly and effectively tested and deemed safe for use,” Wheeler said in a statement at the time. “This long-lasting disinfectant is a great innovation and could help the aviation industry in the coming months.”

Allied BioScience CEO Michael Ruley said in a statement to The Hill that the company was "fully complying" with the EPA's order. 

"We intend to rectify and resolve this as soon as possible. We continue to work closely with the EPA to confirm the protection provided by SurfaceWise2," Ruley said. "We continue to work with the EPA on our full section 3 for national approval."

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People typically are infected with the coronavirus after contact with respiratory droplets, and the risk of getting it through contact with surfaces is considered low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a statement provided to The Hill, an American Airlines spokesperson said the company had stopped using the product and will “continue to follow all EPA and federal guidance on this matter.”

Updated: 5:32 p.m.