BRICKELL KEY – A South Florida community is trying to be proactive in keeping people safe from the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead, residents are complaining that what's being done is toxic and causing more harm than good.


Brickell Key resident Priscilla Colon often takes waterfront walks, but recently she began to notice migraine headaches occurring; and then her dog, Astro, got sick.

Colon said since mid-March, people in hazmat suits have been driving around the community's open spaces in golf carts. They are spraying a chemical on the community's Baywalk that some photos show to be harming even the grass.

In an email obtained by Local 10 News, Brickell Key Master Association said they started a daily 5 a.m. sanitation program, using Virex Plus, which is being applied, they said, in according to the product's direction.

That, however, is in dispute. Local 10 News' Christina Vazquez checked with the manufacturer of Virex, Diversey.

In a statement to Local 10, Diversey said that Virex Plus is a disinfectant designed for cleaning hard surfaces.

"Diversey does not recommend Virex Plus to be used on porous concrete or grass."

Signs tell residents that the Baywalk is closed for sanitation from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., but some residents told Local 10 that it can remain closed as late as 1 p.m., after which they still complained of the smell of the spray.

While Virex Plus is listed on what the EPA calls it's N-List of disinfectants for the virus that causes COVID-19, an EPA spokesperson said the products need to be used as directed, and that EPA and CDC guidance says typically only routine cleaning is needed for outdoor areas.

In addition, the Florida Poison Information Center in Miami told Local 10 that the disinfectancts in this product's class are designed for industrial cleaning, not residential uses. They also said there is no scientific basis yet for spraying common areas to combat coronavirus infection, and that exposure to a high enough concentration can cause eye irritation, skin blistering, stomach pain and vomiting.

As for Priscilla's dog Astro, "He had to be hospitalized," she said. "Diagnosed with gastritis."

Astro's vet told Local 10 it happened after he consumed grass sprayed with Virex, and that the dog may have suffered permanent internal damage.

Priscilla said despite raising these concerns with the association, the spraying continues.

"They are wasting our financial resources," she said
In a statement sent to Local 10 News, the Brickell Key Master Association said, in part, “BKMA has not used Virex Plus since April 10. Virex Plus became unavailable because of consumer demand, so BKMA then switched to using diluted, disinfectant Clorox approved for indoor and outdoor use.”

According to the association, residents have been provided with email announcements that includes, “the information they need to choose whether they wish to visit the affected areas.”

The statement concludes, “The Master Association will continue to handle the Baywalk Sanitation Program with approved products and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. All residents, including dog owners, should make personal decisions about whether they wish to use any of the island’s specific amenities in light of the cleaning programs in place.”