Trump-Approved Coronavirus Killer Banned After Use in Planes

The EPA is ordering a halt to sales of Allied BioScience Inc.’s SurfaceWise2 product amid concerns about the effectiveness of the disinfectant used to combat coronaviruses in some American Airlines Group Inc. planes and airport facilities.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it had ordered Allied BioScience to immediately stop selling and distributing the product amid “scientific concerns regarding product performance.” The agency also revoked emergency exemptions that had allowed the product’s use in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

“EPA laboratory testing indicates the product’s performance is less reliable under real-world conditions, particularly when it is exposed to moisture or abrasion,” the agency said in a news release. “Based on all the available efficacy data for SurfaceWise2, EPA does not support its continued emergency use.”

Representatives of Allied BioScience did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

American Airlines said in a statement Thursday that it had stopped using SurfaceWise2, which was only applied to aircraft routed through Texas. “We will continue to follow all EPA and federal guidance on this matter,” the company said in an emailed statement.

The EPA’s emergency authorization of SurfaceWise 2 for some locations in Texas -- including American Airlines facilities and two orthopedic clinics -- was heralded last August as a potential turning point in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and encouraging more Americans to fly amid the pandemic. The EPA said that the disinfectant could kill coronaviruses for as long as seven days after its application on surfaces, such as counters and seats, when used in combination with other treatments.

Former President Donald Trump’s EPA administrator at the time, Andrew Wheeler, called the anti-viral spray a “game-changing announcement for our efforts to combat coronavirus and Covid-19.”

Federal law generally requires pesticides such as SurfaceWise2 to be registered before they can be distributed, but the EPA can make exemptions for unregistered uses of the chemicals to address emergencies.

However, the EPA said it began a fresh analysis of the product after new data become available this year, while also investigating its sales, marketing and distribution.

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