As the global pandemic spreads throughout the world, many sellers are capitalizing on buyer’s fear and paranoia about becoming infected.
In late May, a Georgia woman was arrested for selling a home-made fungicide marketed to “[reduce] the risks and probability of infection and transmission.”
Her product, called the Toamit Virus Shut Out, was sold through eBay. She told buyers to wear the small box around their neck, and she claimed it could extract virus particles from the air, creating a barrier around the wearer.
Food Safety News reports that its main ingredient was ClO2. Chlorine Dioxide is used for bleaching wood pulp and has also been used to disinfect the air in public buildings.
Wikipedia says the compound was deployed following Hurricane Katrina to help houses get rid of mold. It also was used in post offices following the 2001 anthrax attacks.
34-year-old Rong Sun has pleaded guilty to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and will be sentenced in late June.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, Sun’s crime could carry a penalty of up to one year in jail and or a $50,000 fine.
“Registration under FIFRA helps ensure that pesticides sold in the U.S. work and are safe for humans. The trafficking in snake-oil remedies outside of FIFRA is a criminal act and anyone who does so, especially during this pandemic, will find federal law enforcement ready to stop them,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The U.S. Department of Justice will not stand by while criminal conduct risks people’s health and safety.”
The compound Sun was selling has strict exposure limits and is only permissible in doses of 0.1 ppm over the course of eight hours. It can be toxic if used improperly.