A San Diego-based company has been ordered to stop selling a product that federal officials said was misleadingly marketed as a personal air sanitizer that could fight respiratory diseases like COVID-19.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered San Diego's EcoShield LLC to stop selling the unregistered clip-on Eco AirDoctor that the company said emits a chlorine dioxide gas that could protect its wearer from airborne illnesses like COVID-19.
"EcoShield also claims on its website and social media that the product is a 'safe and effective germ-killing agent' and implies it protects against the coronavirus which causes COVID-19," the EPA said.
More alarmingly, the EPA said the product could actually be harmful to consumers because of their prolonged exposure to chlorine dioxide gas.
The company was ordered to immediately stop selling the product but a website for the Eco AirDoctor was still functioning Wednesday afternoon. NBC 7 reached out to the company for comment but had not heard back at the time of publishing.
A letter from the Federal Trade Commission to EcoShield LLC dated April 27 said the company was misleadingly marketing the product as a treatment for diseases like the novel coronavirus on Facebook and Instagram and ordered them to stop.
The FTC cited examples of EcoShield's wrongful claims including one posted on Facebook that claimed it was "more effective than a face mask."
"The next generation of virus protection and deodorization. Simply clip on to help protect you against colds, flu, bacteria, fungus, and other airborne diseases that affect millions every year," the post read with several hashtags referencing COVID-19.
The EPA noted Wednesday that their stop-order was not the first enforcement action taken against the company for this particular product.
“Unregistered disinfectant products, especially during a pandemic, may cause injury to consumers,” said EPA's Pacific Southwest Administrator John Busterud. “EPA remains vigilant and will continue to protect the health and safety of Americans from products that falsely claim to be effective against COVID-19."
In order for any product to claim it can prevent, treat or cure a human disease, a company must present reliable scientific evidence that often includes human clinical studies. The FTC said no study existed for the Eco AirDoctor.
In order for the product to be sold again in the United States, the company must register the product with the EPA. The agency will not register a disinfectant until it has been determined that it will not pose a risk to consumers.
There are currently more than 450 EPA-approved products that can be used against COVID-19.