Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. serves small, medium, and large pesticide product registrants and other stakeholders in the agricultural and biocidal sectors, in virtually every aspect of pesticide law, policy, science, and regulation.

By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi and Barbara A. Christianson

On April 3, 2020, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced it would allow enforcement discretion by County Agricultural Commissioners (CAC) for licensing and certification requirements for pesticide applicators who perform sanitization services to control the spread of COVID-19.

DPR states in its announcement that, under normal circumstances, a “Pest Control Business (PCB) must always have a Qualified Applicator License (QAL) holder to supervise pest control services.  Generally, where a PCB performs sanitization services, the QAL must also be certified in Category A, P, or K” described as follows:

  • Category A allows PCBs to perform sanitization or disinfection in residential, industrial, or institutional (RII) use settings such as hospitals, schools, or prisons;
  • Category P allows PCBs to perform microbial pest control in RII use settings; and
  • Category K allows PCBs to perform health related pest control services under a government-sponsored program.

DPR acknowledges that due to Governor Newsom’s March 4, 2020, “Stay at Home” Executive Order, DPR cannot proctor in-person licensing examinations to certify licensees.  DPR thus announced that it will use enforcement discretion by allowing “licensed and registered PCBs to perform sanitization services for the control of COVID-19 if they have a designated individual at each business location with a valid QAL in any category” (emphasis added by DPR).  DPR specifies that enforcement discretion applies when all of the following conditions are met:

  1. The professional sanitization service is performed for COVID-19 control and only during the next 90 days.
  2. The PCB without the specific QAL license category notifies the CAC in writing with an explanation for why the sanitization work is necessary.
  3. Examples of necessary work may include situations in which the PCB is the only licensee registered to do business in the county or where other properly licensed PCBs are unavailable to perform COVID-19-related work.
  4. The QAL holder ensures that all applicators applying antimicrobials are properly trained and are in strict compliance with label directions and all other applicable laws and regulations.

The announcement states that those who wish to obtain more information should contact Joe Marade, DPR’s County/State Liaison, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


 

By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi and Barbara A. Christianson

On April 3, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted an interactive telephone call with U.S. retailers and third-party marketplace platforms to discuss imposter disinfectant products and those that falsely claim to be effective against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.  EPA hosted the call due to recent complaints on the availability of products with unsubstantiated and potentially dangerous claims of protection against SARS-CoV-2 and has enlisted the help of the retail community to prevent these products from coming to market.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler described the call as “informative and productive,” and stated that “together, we will work diligently to ensure that consumers have access to EPA-approved and verified surface disinfectant products; products that we know to be effective against the novel coronavirus.”

Participants included the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), the National Retail Federation, Walmart, Amazon, and eBay.  All expressed commitment to “work closely with trusted suppliers to ensure that all products that they sell meet or exceed all applicable U.S. safety standards and legal requirements” and to “work closely with EPA to remove fraudulent products from the marketplace as soon as possible.”  EPA is also coordinating with the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal partners to bring the full force of the law against those selling fraudulent or unregistered products.

Based on tips, complaints, and research, EPA has identified illegal products that are claiming anti-viral, antibacterial, disinfectant, sterilizing, or sanitizing properties but have not gone through EPA’s robust registration process under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and are not legal for sale in the United States.  EPA only registers disinfectants that can be used effectively against the novel coronavirus on surfaces.  Non-registered products may not effectively eliminate the virus or reduce the spread of the virus and could even be harmful to consumers’ health.  Consumers are urged to refer to EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (List N) for EPA-registered disinfectants that EPA has determined to be safe and effective against the novel coronavirus.

The following is a list of some of the unregistered products that have been identified. EPA typically enforces FIFRA through stop-sale orders and penalty actions. EPA provided the following information to ensure that Americans have as much information as possible to help them protect themselves from COVID-19:

  • Lanyards that illegally claim to protect wearers from coronavirus:
  • Unregistered disinfectant tablets:
    • “Epidemic prevention Chlorinating Tablets Disinfectant Chlorine Tablets Swimming Pool Instant Disinfection Tablets Chlorine Dioxide Effervescent Tablet Chlorine Disinfectant 100g Cozy apposite Fun Suit”
    • “The Flu Virus Buster, CLO2 Disinfection Sticker, Removable sterilize air purifier, Anti COVID-19, Stop Coronavirus disease infection /Influenza Buster Disinfectant 1 Box/10 Tablets”
  • Unregistered disinfectant sprays:
    • “Fullene silver antibacterial solution/24 Hour Defense Hand Sanitizer Disinfectant Spray Against Corona Virus COVID- 19 Kills 99.99% of Germs Bacteria 24 Hours of Lasting Protection Alcohol Free 50ml (1.7 fl. oz.)”
  • Unregistered disinfectant wipes:
    • “99.9% Sterilization Wipes/16/32/48/64/96pcs Sterilization Rate of 99% Disinfection Wet Wipes and Paper Napkin Prevention of Coronavirus”

Additional information on the recent telephone conference is available here.


 

By Lisa M. Campbell, Heather F. Collins, M.S. and Barbara A. Christianson

On April 2, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the addition of new surface disinfectants on EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (List N) that may be used to combat SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.  List N now contains 357 products.  The webpage for List N also now has enhanced functionality to allow users to sort these products by surface type and use site.  EPA states that it continues to expedite the review process for new disinfectants.

Previously, all products on List N had to have either an EPA emerging viral pathogen claim or have demonstrated efficacy against another human coronavirus.  EPA now has expanded List N to include products on EPA’s List G: EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products Effective against Norovirus and List L: Products Effective against the Ebola Virus, as these products also meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2.

EPA has updated List N to include the types of surfaces on which products can be used (e.g., hard or soft) and use sites (e.g., hospital, institutional or residential). Products applied via fogging or misting are now noted in the formulation column.  This additional information allows the public to choose products that are appropriate for their specific circumstances.

Additionally, EPA has updated the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) EPA has posted about disinfectants related to coronavirus.  The FAQ update provides new information on pesticide safety, enforcement, and pesticide devices.  It also includes enhanced explanations of why List N products are qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2 and how these products can be used most effectively.

EPA states that it has continued to adapt its processes to ensure the supply of disinfectants keeps pace with demand. EPA recently announced additional flexibility that allows manufacturers of already-registered EPA disinfectants to obtain certain active and inert ingredients from any source of suppliers without prior approval by EPA.  EPA also added 48 additional chemicals to its list of commodity inert ingredients. EPA states that this regulatory flexibility aims to help ease the production and availability of EPA-registered disinfectants.

EPA also is expediting all requests for company numbers and establishment numbers to enable new pesticide-producing establishments to come online as quickly as possible.  

Additional information on EPA’s efforts to address the novel coronavirus is available here.


 

By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi

On March 30, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Press Release to clarify its Temporary Policy released on March 26, 2020, regarding EPA’s enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.  A discussion of the Temporary Policy is available on our blog.

The impetus for the Press Release was based, according to EPA, on the “reckless propaganda” by certain news outlets that provided erroneous or exaggerated information about the Temporary Policy, particularly that the Temporary Policy is providing a blanket waiver of environmental requirements or is creating a presumption that the COVID-19 pandemic is the cause of noncompliance. 

EPA’s Press Release outlines certain elements of the Temporary Policy that should not be overlooked:

  • The Temporary Policy states that EPA will not seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting requirements, if, on a case-by-case basis, EPA agrees that such noncompliance was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Policy is not intended to cover:
    • Exceedances of pollutant limitations in permits, regulations, and statutes.
    • Cases which may involve acute risks or imminent threats, or failure of pollution control or other equipment that may result in exceedances, except in possible circumstances where the facility contacts the appropriate EPA region, or authorized state or tribe, and allows regulators to work with that facility to mitigate or eliminate such risks or threats.
    • Normal operations and maintenance of public water systems and required sampling of vital drinking water supplies. 
  • Regulated parties must document the basis for any claim that the pandemic prevented them from conducting that routine monitoring and reporting and present it to EPA upon request. EPA states that it is using this approach to allow EPA to prioritize its resources and respond to acute risks and imminent threats, rather than making up-front case-by-case determinations regarding routine monitoring and reporting requirements.

EPA notes that it expects regulated facilities to comply with regulatory requirements, where reasonably practicable, and to return to compliance as quickly as possible, once the COVID-19 threat is over.  EPA states that it plans to lift the measures of the Temporary Policy as soon as normal operations can resume, which may occur sooner in some locations than others.


 

By Lisa M. Campbell, Heather F. Collins, M.S. and Barbara A. Christianson

On March 31, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is taking further action to help ease the production and availability of EPA-registered disinfectants by temporarily allowing manufacturers of certain already-registered EPA disinfectant products to obtain certain active ingredients from any source without prior approval from EPA.  This only applies to products on EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (List N).  EPA announced on March 26, 2020, similar action on certain inert ingredients

EPA typically requires disinfectant manufacturers to first apply for and receive EPA approval prior to making a change in the source of the active ingredient.  Under this temporary amendment, however, manufacturers can source certain active ingredients from alternate suppliers by informing EPA.  Once EPA has been notified, the registrant can immediately distribute or sell a product modified according to this temporary amendment, provided that the resulting formulation is chemically similar to the current formulation (i.e., the purity of resulting product from the alternate source falls within the certified limits of the currently registered formulation for which they are making the source change).  EPA states that by allowing manufacturers to obtain certain active ingredients from any source it will help alleviate reports of supply chain disruptions by pesticide registrants who manufacture disinfectant products on List N.

The eligible active ingredients are:

  • Citric Acid, Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CASRN) 77-92-9;
  • Ethanol, CASRN 64-17-5;
  • Glycolic Acid, CASRN 79-14-1;
  • Hydrochloric Acid, CASRN 7647-01-0;
  • Hypochlorous Acid, CASRN 7790-92-3;
  • Hydrogen Peroxide, CASRN 7722-84-1;
  • L-Lactic Acid, CASRN 79-33-4; and
  • Sodium Hypochlorite, CASRN 7681-52-9.

EPA will assess the continued need for and scope of this temporary amendment on a regular basis and will update it if EPA determines modifications are necessary.  EPA will notify the public at least seven days prior to terminating this temporary amendment at www.epa.gov/pesticides.

After the termination date of the temporary amendment, registrants will not be able to release for shipment new registered product unless that product is produced using a source of active ingredient identified in the product’s approved Confidential Statement of Formula (CSF) or otherwise would have complied with relevant requirements in the absence of this temporary amendment.

EPA states in its temporary amendment to Pesticide Registration (PR) Notice 98-10, the following procedures to submit a notification for currently registered disinfectant products listed on EPA’s List N:

  • A cover letter with a subject line that clearly indicates that this is a “notification per TEMPORARY AMENDMENT TO PR NOTICE 98-10 (Insert date or other citation) for EPA Registration No. XXXXXX and [insert product name]”;
  • The active ingredient; and
  • The following statement:

[Name of Registrant] is notifying EPA of its intent to use one or more alternate, unregistered sources of active ingredient listed in the TEMPORARY AMENDMENT TO PESTICIDE REGISTRATION (PR) NOTICE 98-10 (Insert date or other citation) in the formulation of EPA Registration No. [xxx-xx].  Each source is chemically identical to (i.e., within the certified limits of) the active ingredients in the Confidential Statements of Formula previously accepted by EPA [insert CSF date(s)]. This self-certification is consistent with the provisions of PR Notice 98-10 and no other changes have been made to the Confidential Statement of Formula or labeling of this product.  Further, I confirm that the ingredients statement of this label remains truthful.  I understand that it is a violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1001 to willfully make any false statement to EPA.  I further understand that if this self-certification is not consistent with the terms of PR Notice 98-10 and 40 C.F.R. 152.46, this product may be in violation of FIFRA and I may be subject to enforcement actions and penalties under section 12 and 14 of FIFRA.

Applications must be submitted via the CDX portal.  At this time, EPA is not accepting paper applications.  Once an application is submitted, EPA requests that an email is sent to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with the CDX tracking number (CDX _ 2020 _ XXXXXXX).  A registrant may distribute or sell a product modified according to this temporary amendment to PR Notice 98-10 once EPA receives the notification.

Additional information on submission information for registrants is available at Emerging Viral Pathogen Claims for SARS-CoV-2: Submission Information for Registrants and on our blog.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on March 26, 2020, a temporary policy regarding enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.  EPA states that its temporary enforcement discretion policy applies to civil violations during the COVID-19 outbreak.  The policy addresses different categories of noncompliance differently.  For example, according to EPA, it “does not expect to seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations that are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic but does expect operators of public water systems to continue to ensure the safety of our drinking water supplies.”  The policy describes the steps that regulated facilities should take to qualify for enforcement discretion.  To be eligible for enforcement discretion, the policy requires facilities to document decisions made to prevent or mitigate noncompliance and demonstrate how the noncompliance was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

EPA notes that its policy does not provide leniency for intentional criminal violations of law and that it does not apply to activities that are carried out under Superfund and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action enforcement instruments.  EPA states that it will address these matters in separate communications.  The policy states that it does not apply to imports.  According to the policy, EPA is “especially concerned about pesticide products entering the United States, or produced, manufactured, distributed in the United States, that claim to address COVID-19 impacts.”  EPA “expects to focus on ensuring compliance with requirements applicable to these products to ensure protection of public health.”

The policy will apply retroactively beginning on March 13, 2020.  EPA will assess the continued need for and scope of this temporary policy on a regular basis and will update it if EPA determines modifications are necessary.  To provide fair and sufficient notice to the public, EPA states that it will post a notification on its website at least seven days prior to terminating the temporary policy.


 

By Lisa M. Campbell, Heather F. Collins, M.S. and Barbara A. Christianson

On March 26, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is allowing flexibility to manufacturers of disinfectants and other pesticides to increase the availability of products for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.  EPA announced that it is allowing manufacturers to obtain certain inert ingredients from different suppliers without EPA approval after manufacturers voiced concern with EPA about challenges they face obtaining inert ingredients with the disruption of the supply chain. 

EPA stated it is allowing applicants submitting registrations or registration amendments to obtain commodity inert ingredients, approximately 280 total as of today, from various sources without having to provide the supplier name and address on its Confidential Statement of Formula (CSF).  EPA, however, notes that only ingredients designated as commodity inert ingredients on its list will be eligible for this reduced CSF reporting.

EPA also announced it is continuing to expedite review of submissions from applicants requesting to add emerging viral pathogen claims to existing registered disinfectant labels.  Claims currently are being approved within 14 days, as resources allow, compared to the typical 90-day review.  EPA has added 70 new surface disinfectants to its List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, which brings the total number of products listed to 351.

Additional information on EPA’s list of commodity inert ingredients is available here

Additional information on submission information for registrants is available at Emerging Viral Pathogen Claims for SARS-CoV-2: Submission Information for Registrants and on our blog.


 

By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and Barbara A. Christianson

On March 13, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an expanded list of EPA-registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.  The list contains nearly 200 additional products, including 40 new products that went through EPA’s expedited review process.  While disinfectant products on this list have not been tested specifically against SARS-CoV-2, EPA expects them to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 because they have: (1) demonstrated efficacy against a harder-to-kill virus; (2) qualified for the emerging viral pathogens claim; or (3) demonstrated efficacy against another human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated: “During this pandemic, it’s important that people can easily find the information they’re looking for when choosing and using a surface disinfectant.  With this expanded list, EPA is making sure Americans have greater access to as many effective and approved surface disinfectant products as possible and that they have the information at their fingertips to use them effectively.”

EPA also made enhancements to the web-based list to make it more user friendly.  Specifically: (1) the product list has been updated to include the product’s active ingredient and the amount of time the surface should remain wet to be effective against the given pathogen; and (2) users may now sort, search, and print the information on the table and easily view it on a mobile device.

List N, EPA’s list of registered disinfectant products is available here.  EPA’s Frequently Asked Questions about List N is available here.


 

By Lisa R. Burchi and Barbara A. Christianson

On March 10, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that warning letters were sent to seven companies for allegedly selling unapproved products that may violate federal law by making deceptive or scientifically unsupported claims about their ability to treat coronavirus (COVID-19).  The warning letters are the first issued by the Agencies alleging unapproved and/or unsupported claims that products can treat or prevent COVID-19/coronavirus.

The agencies sent the letters to the following companies:

  1. Vital Silver;
  2. Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd.;
  3. N-ergetics;
  4. GuruNanda, LLC;
  5. Vivify Holistic Clinic;
  6. Herbal Amy LLC; and
  7. The Jim Bakker Show.

Each of the seven companies have advertised products as able to treat or prevent COVID-19/coronavirus.  The unapproved products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver.

According to FDA, there are no approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.  FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. stated: “The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health.  We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue such as this one.  The FDA’s laws are designed to protect the public health by ensuring, among other things, that drugs are safe and effective for their intended uses.”

The letters state that one or more of the efficacy claims made by the marketers are unsubstantiated and therefore may violate the FTC Act.  The letters advise the recipients to cease immediately making all claims that their products can treat or cure coronavirus. 

FTC Chair Joe Simons stated: “There already is a high level of anxiety over the potential spread of coronavirus.  What we don’t need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims.  These warning letters are just the first step.  We’re prepared to take enforcement actions against companies that continue to market this type of scam.”

Commentary

FTC and FDA have pledged to continue to monitor social media, online marketplaces, and incoming complaints to ensure these products do not continue to make such claims.  The letters sent emphasize that, if the false claims do not cease, FTC may seek a federal court injunction and an order requiring money to be refunded to consumers and instructing the recipients to notify the FTC within 48 hours of the specific actions they have taken to address FTC’s concerns.

In addition, the FTC recently issued a new consumer blog post with information about how to identify and avoid coronavirus-related scams.  Coronavirus: Scammers follow the headlines notes that scammers are creating websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take consumers’ money and obtain personal information.  It then warns consumers of the “red flags” to monitor when shopping for products related to the virus.

EPA also has been active in this area, announcing the release of a new list of EPA-registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and also announcing its process for expediting review of submissions made by companies that are requesting to add Emerging Viral Pathogen claims to its labels of already-registered surface disinfectants. 


 

By Lisa M. Campbell, Heather F. Collins, M.S. and Barbara A. Christianson

On March 9, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that due to the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, it is expediting review of submissions made by companies that are requesting to add Emerging Viral Pathogen claims to its labels of already-registered surface disinfectants.

EPA states that only claims that do not require review of new efficacy data are being expedited at this time.  Companies can submit these claims as non-Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act (PRIA 4) fast-track amendments.  Registrants are asked not to include other label changes typically covered under amendments and notifications as part of the submission to add Emerging Viral Pathogen claims.

EPA requests that registrants include the following information in a letter to ensure the efficient processing of submissions:

  • A subject line that clearly indicates “Emerging Viral Pathogen Claim for SARS-CoV-2”;
  • A request to make emerging viral pathogen claims;
  • A description of how the product meets the eligibility criteria for use against one or more categories of viral pathogens consistent with the guidance;
  • The identification of the virus(es) from the product label that the registrant is using to support the emerging viral pathogen claims and the study ID number (MRID) that supports the claim;
    • Note: EPA recommends using the minimum number of supporting viruses needed for the emerging pathogen claim in order to expedite EPA’s review
  • An up-to-date matrix (Form 8570-35); and
  • A request to add the Terms of Registration outlined in Attachment I of the Emerging Viral Pathogens Guidance.

Registrants should also submit a revised master label with a separate section for emerging viral pathogen claims that includes the generic claim statements identified in Attachment I of the Emerging Viral Pathogens guidance document.

EPA requests that applications are submitted through EPA’s CDX portal and email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with the CDX tracking number (CDX_2020_XXXXXXX) once an application was submitted to expedite the application.

If approved, the product will be added to List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, during the next update to the list, which is scheduled to be updated in the next two weeks.

Additional information is available at Emerging Viral Pathogen Claims for SARS-CoV-2: Submission Information for Registrants and on our blog.


 
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