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Quincy man pleads guilty to selling bleach-dispensing amulet as coronavirus fighter

Toamite

A Quincy man who used eBay to sell a card-like amulet that dispenses bleach fumes faces up to a year in prison after pleading guilty to distribution and sale of an unregistered pesticide, the US Attorney's office in Boston reports.

Jiule Lin, 38, started selling Toamit Virus Shut Out, with the active ingredient of chlorine dioxide, on eBay as a Covid-19 preventative in March, several weeks before President Trump suggested "disinfectant" applied to the lungs might kill the virus.

According to the US Attorney's office:

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the EPA regulates the production, sale, distribution and use of pesticides in the United States. A pesticide is any substance intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest, including viruses. Pesticides must be registered with the EPA. Toamit Virus Shut Out was not registered, and it is illegal to distribute or sell unregistered pesticides.

He's not the first person prosecuted for selling the censers, which come with a lanyard for easy wearing around the neck. In September, Customs and Border Protection agents seized 10,000 packages of the things in Louisville, KY.

US Attorney Andrew Lelling said he took some satisfaction in going after Lin:

At the height of a raging pandemic killing thousands of people a day, this defendant tried to profit from conning people into believing that a pesticide-coated lanyard would protect them from viruses like COVID-19. This was dangerous, opportunistic fraud. We will always pursue these kinds of cases - I have zero tolerance for people who take advantage of the fears of others during a national health crisis.

The packaging for the product is is Japanese and lists its manufacturer as Toa Industry of Japan. But on its Web site, the company says it stopped making the thing in March, so anything on the market now is likely a counterfeit (Google translation of the original Japanese):

[Caution] Regarding counterfeit products of "Virus Shut Out"

We manufactured "Virus Shutout" and sold it mainly as a product for physical stores, but we have already finished manufacturing and selling by March 2nd year of Reiwa.

However, at present, a large number of products using the name "virus shutout" are sold on major EC sites, and we have confirmed that some products are copy products. We have also received reports from consumers who have purchased copy products that they have suffered health problems. And since we have already discontinued the sale and sold it mainly as a product for physical stores, most of the products currently on the market may be copy products.

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PDF icon Affidavit by EPA agent.395.96 KB

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Comments

The dude is rivaled only by Mass DPH in his cluelessness. At least he did not sell fruits washed in chlorine dioxide.

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Voting closed 8

What's the issue with ClO2 in produce wash water?

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Voting closed 8

Not an issue, at least compared to Cl02 in amulets.

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Voting closed 10

I'm vaguely remembering that the disinfectant that goes into a restaurant dishwasher, or the tablets you throw into the third sink behind the bar (wash / rinse / sani) is chlorine dioxide?

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Voting closed 15

One teaspoon of bleach in a five gallons of water is appropriate for purifying water for drinking. Two teaspoons per gallon of water is appropriate for sanitizing dishes or kitchen surfaces. I'm not a bleachologist, but I imagine using the bleach water that's fine to drink would also be fine to rinse fruit with. Using much more concentrated bleach for anything humans are going to touch or consume is probably not a good idea.

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Voting closed 12

Mmmmm chlorine bleach purified water, delicious!

Katadyn Micropur MP1 water purification tablets are chlorine dioxide and by far are the most decent tasting purification technique I've used in the back country. Iodine never really bothered me, but that taste from regular bleach sucks.

Anyways, anything from a reputable manufacturer or vendor, being used according to the directions for that specific use, is going to be safe for that use. You can start a fire with a match or a flamethrower but I wouldn't recommend the flamethrower for lighting your Yankee Candles in the living room.

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Voting closed 7

It's a little strange that the EPA is enforcing this rather than the FDA. I don't think of a virus as a pest. I think of it as a disease-causing agent, so something intended to stop it would be a (supposed) medical product.

But the end result was ok.

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Voting closed 9

So who really said "There's a sucker born every minute"?

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Voting closed 11