On Oct. 15, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $6.9 million settlement with Electrolux Home Products Inc. (Electrolux) to resolve alleged violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) related to the importation and intended sale of unregistered pesticide products. EPA’s full news release may be found here.
Between January and May 2020, Electrolux imported around 420,000 dehumidifiers and air conditioners that contained filters treated with an unregistered nanosilver pesticide. These products were labeled and marketed with pesticidal claims like “antibacterial filter,” and “helps eliminate bacteria in the air that can make breathing difficult.”
The nanosilver treated filters and pesticidal marketing claims for these products brought them within the scope of FIFRA regulation, which requires that all pesticide products be registered with EPA prior to sale or distribution within the U.S. See 7 U.S.C. § 136a. FIFRA also requires importers to submit a Notice of Arrival (NOA) to EPA prior to the arrival of pesticide products. 19 C.F.R. § 12.112. EPA determined that Electrolux failed to submit the required NOA and that the air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and the nanosilver pesticide used to treat the filters were all unregistered pesticides. EPA, therefore, concluded that Electrolux’s importation and intended sale of the dehumidifiers and air conditioners violated FIFRA. As a result, EPA worked closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to detain approximately 420,000 of Electrolux’s products and prevent them from entering U.S. commerce.
Electrolux agreed to pay a hefty $6,991,400 civil penalty to resolve the alleged FIFRA violations. Additionally, before releasing the detained products, EPA required Electrolux to agree to systematically remove the filters treated with the unregistered nanosilver and to remove all pesticidal marketing claims from each product detained by CBP and any additional products already in the U.S.
Electrolux’s consent agreement serves as a notice to the regulated community that FIFRA compliance is one of EPA’s top enforcement priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic. EPA continues to pursue severe civil and criminal penalties to ensure all pesticide products on the market comply with FIFRA’s strict requirements.
For more information on FIFRA regulation and compliance, please contact a member of Taft’s Environmental practice.