EPA Announces Settlement for Illegal Imports of Air Filter Products Incorporating Nanosilver

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on October 15, 2020, a settlement with Electrolux Home Products, Inc., to resolve alleged violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  As part of the settlement, Electrolux will pay a civil penalty in the amount of $6,991,400.

EPA states that the settlement resolves claims that Electrolux imported unregistered pesticides in violation of FIFRA Section 12(a)(1)(A) and failed to file the required Notice of Arrival in violation of FIFRA Section 12(a)(2)(N).  According to EPA, Electrolux imported approximately 420,000 Frigidaire brand dehumidifiers and air conditioners that contained filters incorporating an unregistered nanosilver and that were labeled and marketed with pesticidal claims.  The claims included “antibacterial filter” and “helps eliminate bacteria in the air that can make breathing difficult.”  EPA worked with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent the unregistered pesticide products from entering U.S. commerce.  Electrolux agreed to remove the filters with the unregistered nanosilver, systematically replacing the filters manufactured with nanosilver, and removed the online and on-box pesticidal claims for the products it had imported, as well as for some additional products already in the United States.  EPA states that to date, Electrolux has returned more than 500,000 air conditioners and dehumidifiers to compliance.

EPA notes that applicants for pesticide registration are required to submit efficacy data to substantiate any public health claims they intend to make for their pesticide products.  Before EPA can register a pesticide, it must determine that no unreasonable adverse effects on human health and the environment will occur when the pesticide product is used according to its label directions.  According to EPA, “[t]he only nanosilver pesticides that are currently registered with the EPA are approved solely for incorporation into textiles to protect those articles themselves from antimicrobial pests such as mold and bacteria that can cause deterioration, discoloration or odors.  No nanosilver pesticide is registered with the EPA for use in home appliances to disinfect the ambient air or protect the health of the user.”

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