Amazon to Pay $1.2 Million Fine for Selling Illegal Pesticides

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By Paul Shukovsky

Amazon agreed to pay a $1.2 million penalty for selling illegal and misbranded pesticides, which the EPA said is one of the largest-ever fines under federal pesticides law.

Environmental Protection Agency investigators discovered pesticides they described as not legal for sale in the U.S., “including pesticidal chalk dangerously similar to children’s sidewalk chalk,” yet available for purchase on Amazon.com and other online retailers.

The EPA plans a press briefing later Feb. 15.

Pesticidal chalk, also known as “Miraculous Chalk” or “Chinese Chalk,” is mostly imported illegally from China and often bears a label in both English and Chinese, according to the EPA website. It is particularly dangerous to immigrant communities, the EPA said.

“Sometimes the manufacturer claims that the chalk is ‘harmless to human beings and animals’ and ‘safe to use’,” the EPA said in a Feb. 14 news release, adding that children can mistake the product for blackboard chalk and put it in their mouths. “These claims are untrue and dangerous.”

Health problems associated with ingesting the chalk include vomiting, stomach pains, convulsions, tremors, loss of consciousness, and serious allergic reactions, the agency said.

“The EPA has reached an agreement with Amazon to protect the public from the hazards posed by these unregistered, misbranded and illegal pesticide products,” the press advisory said.

An Amazon representative told Bloomberg Environment in an email late Feb. 14 the company considers regulatory compliance a priority.

“Third-party sellers are required to comply with all relevant laws and regulations when listing items for sale on Amazon. When sellers don’t comply with our terms, we work quickly to take action on behalf of customers,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to innovate on behalf of our customers and to work with brands, manufacturers, government agencies, law enforcement, and others to protect the integrity of our marketplace.”

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