Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. serves small, medium, and large pesticide product registrants and other stakeholders in the agricultural and biocidal sectors, in virtually every aspect of pesticide law, policy, science, and regulation.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on July 14, 2021, that it filed an administrative complaint against Amazon.com, “the world’s largest retailer, to force Amazon to accept responsibility for recalling potentially hazardous products sold on Amazon.com.” CPSC claims that the specified products sold through Amazon’s “fulfilled by Amazon” (FBA) program are defective and pose a risk of serious injury or death to consumers and that Amazon is legally responsible to recall them. According to the complaint, the products include “24,000 faulty carbon monoxide detectors that fail to alarm, numerous children’s sleepwear garments that are in violation of the flammable fabric safety standard risking burn injuries to children, and nearly 400,000 hair dryers sold without the required immersion protection devices that protect consumers against shock and electrocution.”
CPSC filed the complaint under the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). According to the complaint, Amazon acts as a “distributor,” as defined by CPSA, of its FBA products by: (a) receiving delivery of FBA consumer products from a merchant with the intent to distribute the product further; (b) holding, storing, sorting, and preparing for shipment FBA products in its warehouses and fulfillment centers; and (c) distributing FBA consumer products into commerce by delivering FBA products directly to consumers or to common carriers for delivery to consumers.
The complaint states that after CPSC notified Amazon about the hazards presented by the specified products, Amazon took “several unilateral actions,” including:
According to the complaint, these actions “are insufficient to remediate the hazards posed by the Subject Products and do not constitute a fully effectuated Section 15 mandatory corrective action ordered by” CPSC. The complaint states that “[a] Section 15 order requiring Amazon to take additional actions in conjunction with the CPSC as a distributor is necessary for public safety.” The complaint asks CPSC to:
CPSC “urges consumers to visit SaferProducts.gov to check for recalls prior to purchasing products and to report any incidents or injuries to the CPSC.” CPSC published the complaint in the July 21, 2021, Federal Register. 86 Fed. Reg. 38450.
In CPSC’s July 14, 2021, press release, Acting Chair Robert Adler states that the decision to file an administrative complaint is “a huge step across a vast desert -- we must grapple with how to deal with these massive third-party platforms more efficiently, and how best to protect the American consumers who rely on them.” According to The Washington Post, CPSC issued the administrative complaint “after months of behind-the-scenes negotiations between regulators and Amazon as the agency tried to persuade the company to follow the CPSC’s rules for getting dangerous products off the market, according to a senior agency official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment on internal discussions.” This same official stated that “Amazon officials refused to acknowledge that the CPSC has the authority to compel the company to remove unsafe products.”
As reported in our February 16, 2018, blog item, “EPA Settles with Amazon on Distribution of Unregistered Pesticides,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Amazon entered into a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) whereby Amazon agreed to pay $1,215,700 in civil penalties for approximately 4,000 alleged violations under Section 3 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for the distribution of unregistered pesticide products. EPA later issued stop sale, use, or removal orders (SSURO) to Amazon and eBay for selling certain pesticide products that EPA claims are unregistered, misbranded, or restricted-use pesticides, and pesticide devices that EPA asserts make false or misleading claims. More information on the SSURO is available in our June 17, 2020, blog item, “EPA Issues Stop Sale, Use, or Removal Orders to Amazon and eBay for Unregistered and Misbranded Pesticides and Devices, Including Products with Claims Related to COVID-19.”
As reported in our October 9, 2020, blog item, Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, requested that Amazon Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chair Jeff Bezos launch an investigation into the safety of Amazon’s product line, AmazonBasics, and answer a series of questions pertaining to the company’s product safety and recall practices. The Committee’s October 7, 2020, press release notes that the request comes after a CNN investigation found that many of AmazonBasics’ electronic products “have exploded, caught fire, sparked, melted, or otherwise created hazardous situations at rates well above comparable products.” According to the press release, many of these products were never recalled and continue to be sold.
CPSC’s administrative complaint is just the latest indication of the pressure on Amazon to ensure the safety of the products the platform hosts. These federal agency and Congressional efforts will almost certainly cause more pressure on product manufacturers to ensure the products they offer for sale on Amazon are compliant with the relevant regulations.
On July 12, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in the Federal Register a notice of availability of a petition filed on April 8, 2021, by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) requesting that EPA cancel Elanco US Inc.’s (formerly Bayer Healthcare LLC) Product, PNR1427, more commonly known as Seresto (Petition). 86 Fed. Reg. 36546. The Petition also requests that EPA suspend the registration pending the requested cancellation. Seresto has been registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) since 2012 for flea and tick treatment on adult dogs and puppies and on adult cats and kittens.
Comments on the petition are due on or before September 10, 2021, in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2021-0409.
Under FIFRA Section 6(b), EPA may cancel a pesticide product’s registration if it appears to EPA that the pesticide, “when used in accordance with widespread and commonly recognized practice, generally causes unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” In its Petition, CBD states that, “according to a recent aggregate incident summary report, since this product was introduced in 2012, EPA has received over 75,000 adverse incident reports, including at least 1,698 reports linking the use of this product to pet deaths and at least 700 involving human harm.” CBD states this product “contains as active ingredients the neonicotinoid imidacloprid (10%) and the pyrethroid flumethrin (4.5%).” CBD states further, “Understanding each of these ingredients, alone and in combination, is important for understanding the toxicity and risks that their use in Seresto presents to dogs, cats, humans, and exposed threatened and endangered species.” With regard to imidacloprid, CBD states in its Petition, “Neonicotinoids like imidacloprid are most well-known for the harms they cause to pollinator species, including threatened and endangered pollinators like the Poweshiek skipperling (endangered), Dakota skipper (threatened), and rusty patched bumble bee (endangered).” The Petition discusses several studies and EPA risk assessments related to both ingredients, as well as what it describes as the “synergistic effects” of the combination of imidacloprid and flumethrin. CBD argues that Seresto poses an unreasonable risk to human health, pets, and the environment and that EPA should cancel the registration pursuant to FIFRA Section 6(b).
CBD additionally argues that EPA should suspend the registration, asserting that EPA can suspend a pesticide’s registration under FIFRA Section 6(c)(1) when such action is necessary to prevent an “imminent hazard” during the time required for cancellation. The standard to be met to be considered an imminent hazard is high, as “imminent hazard” is defined under FIFRA Section 2(l) as “a situation which exists when the continued use of a pesticide during the time required for [a] cancellation proceeding would be likely to result in unreasonable adverse effects on the environment or will involve unreasonable hazard to the survival of a species declared endangered or threatened.” CBD argues that suspension is warranted in this case because, CDC asserts, both criteria for an imminent hazard are satisfied -- CDC asserts that the products at issue pose both “ongoing and imminent unreasonable adverse effects on the environment and unreasonable hazard to the survival of the endangered rusty patched bumble bee, as well as other imperiled pollinators).”
This Petition is one prong in a larger effort by certain groups to halt sales and use of Seresto. EPA’s press release statements indicate that EPA shares some concerns raised by the petitioners, at least with regard to incidents involving pets. EPA further stated in its press release that it is reviewing additional information requested by EPA from the current and former registrant regarding these incidents, and that it will use that information “along with any relevant information received during the public comment on this petition, to determine if any additional action is needed.” It will be important to monitor EPA’s review and response to this petition.
On July 8, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it issued a Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order (SSURO) to Allied BioScience for its product SurfaceWise2. SurfaceWise2, a residual antimicrobial surface coating, was previously authorized for emergency use in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to help address the COVID-19 pandemic. Specific use sites included American Airlines aircraft and airport facilities and two orthopedic facilities in Texas. A discussion of these emergency authorizations can be found here.
EPA asserts that the company was marketing, selling, and distributing SurfaceWise2 in ways that were inconsistent with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the terms and conditions of the emergency exemption authorizations, and issued an SSURO that requires Allied BioScience to stop selling and distributing SurfaceWise2 immediately. The SSURO will remain in effect unless revoked, terminated, suspended, or modified in writing by EPA.
Additionally, EPA states that it is revoking SurfaceWise2 emergency exemptions for Arkansas and Texas based on the FIFRA violations that EPA is alleging and scientific concerns regarding product performance. According to EPA, since January, new data became available that led EPA to review comprehensively new and existing information regarding product efficacy. EPA states that its laboratory testing indicates the product’s performance is less reliable under real-world conditions than, presumably, data that EPA previously reviewed may have indicated to EPA, particularly when it is exposed to moisture or abrasion.
In May 2021, EPA received a revocation request from Oklahoma indicating the emergency situation was no longer applicable in the state. EPA stated that it is accepting Oklahoma’s rationale and revoking the state’s emergency exemption on those grounds. This action is in addition to revoking the emergency exemptions for Arkansas and Texas.
EPA initially approved in August 2020 the emergency exemptions for SurfaceWise2 for specific locations under Section 18 of FIFRA for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, on surfaces for up to seven days. In January 2021, EPA announced approval of extensions for the first-ever long-lasting antiviral product for use against SARS-CoV-2, with claims providing residual surface control of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, for up to 30 days on undisturbed (e.g., not routinely disinfected with List N products) non-porous treated surfaces. These approvals were novel and touted by EPA in its effort to combat the coronavirus. It is not unusual for EPA to issue an SSURO to stop sales for a product that is being marketed, sold, and distributed in a manner inconsistent with its label, but the issuance of an SSURO in this instance is noteworthy given EPA’s prior support of the product. Likewise, the fact that EPA conducted its own efficacy testing on this product is atypical. The implications of EPA’s conducting its own testing of the product could potentially have broader implications for novel antimicrobial products claiming long-term efficacy. Additionally noteworthy is the fact that this case emphasizes again EPA’s view that products intended to combat COVID-19 on surfaces are not in need of emergency or expedited approvals.
On July 2, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is taking action to alleviate a supply-chain issue facing the pesticide industry. EPA stated that it is allowing registrants of non-antimicrobial pesticide products to substitute some combination of pre-approved alternate inert ingredients for inert ingredients derived from propylene oxide feedstocks that are in limited supply due to weather events that occurred in the U.S. Gulf Coast area in February 2021. EPA stated that it is allowing these substitutions even in cases where propylene glycol is added to the formulation or is part of a brand-name mixture in which the full composition is known to the registrant.
The pre-approved alternates are glycerin (Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CAS RN) 56-81-5); diethylene glycol (CAS RN 111-46-6); ethylene glycol (CAS RN 107-21-1); and 1,3-propanediol (CAS RN 504-63-2).
EPA emphasizes that this action, known as “Propylene Glycol Phase 2 -- ‘Not In-Kind’ Substitution Mechanism,” relates only to non-antimicrobial pesticide products and that EPA will handle “not in-kind” substitutions for antimicrobial pesticide products on a case-by-case basis.
In April 2021, EPA implemented “Propylene Glycol Phase 1 -- ‘In-Kind’ Substitution Mechanism” to allow certain in-kind substitutions to address propylene glycol supply-chain shortages.
These actions require registrants to self-certify that the substitute inert ingredients serve the same function in the product as propylene glycol and that the change will not impact either the validity of any product-specific data submitted in support of the registration or the product’s acute toxicity category or physical/chemical characteristics in a way that would require label modifications. Registrants must also certify that the substitution will not affect the product’s fitness for its intended purposes in terms of efficacy, phytotoxicity, or any other factor.
This action is time limited, extending to December 31, 2021. Any registrants who wish to make the substitution permanent will have to go through the standard amendment process outlined in Pesticide Registration Notice (PRN) 98-10.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have received a draft assessment of glyphosate carried out by four European Union (EU) member states and have begun to consider the findings. According to ECHA’s June 15, 2021, press release, the national authorities of France, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Sweden -- known as the Assessment Group of Glyphosate (AGG) -- examined all the evidence submitted by the companies that are seeking renewed approval to market the glyphosate in the EU. Glyphosate is currently authorized for use in the EU until December 2022.
ECHA and EFSA will organize parallel consultations on the draft report. These will be open to the public and will be held in the first week of September 2021. According to ECHA, the consultations are the first step in the assessments. ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) will review the classification of glyphosate under the Classification, Labeling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation. ECHA notes that chemical classification is based solely on the hazardous properties of a substance and does not consider the likelihood of exposure. Exposure is considered as part of the risk assessment process led by EFSA.
Glyphosate currently has a harmonized classification as causing serious eye damage and as toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects, prior to and following ECHA’s 2017 assessment. ECHA states that no classification for germ cell mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, or reproductive toxicity was warranted. The AGG proposal does not foresee a change to the existing classification.
Once ECHA adopts its opinion on the classification of glyphosate, EFSA will prepare a final peer review and publish its conclusions, expected in late 2022. Based on this risk assessment, the European Commission (EC) will decide whether to renew glyphosate.
PMRA Issues Interim Order to Regulate Certain UV Radiation-emitting and Ozone-generating Devices under the Pest Control Products Act
On June 7, 2021, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) announced the issuance of its Interim Order Respecting Ultraviolet Radiation-emitting Devices and Ozone-generating Devices under the Pest Control Products Act (Interim Order), setting forth new requirements for certain devices claiming to control, destroy, make inactive, or reduce the level of bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms that are human pathogens. PMRA also issued an “Explanatory Note” and a Questions and Answers document regarding the Interim Order.
PMRA states that it issued the Interim Order following the increased sale of ultraviolet (UV) radiation-emitting and ozone-generating devices such as lights and wands in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic. These devices are marketed to kill bacteria and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. According to PMRA, it has not received enough evidence to confirm that UV radiation-emitting and ozone-generating devices are safe for users and the public, or that they are effective.
Thus, PMRA is now requiring that companies register certain UV radiation-emitting devices and ozone-generating devices before they may be sold or used in Canada. In its Explanatory Note, PMRA states:
The Interim Order clarifies that certain UV radiation-emitting devices and ozone-generating devices claiming to kill bacteria and viruses are not subject to the regulatory requirements of the PCPA and its Regulations. These include:
For UV radiation-emitting devices that satisfy these conditions, there are additional labeling requirements for the display panels and operating manual.
This Interim Order changes significantly the requirements applicable to these types of devices that did not previously require registration. PMRA is providing a 30-day transition period after the Interim Order is issued before companies must comply with these requirements. PMRA also is advising Canadians to “stop using UV lights and wands that claim to disinfect against the virus that causes COVID-19 especially if the product is for use on the skin.”
Companies that produce devices that may be subject to this Interim Order should review the new requirements and exemptions carefully. PMRA states that unregistered or unauthorized devices are prohibited and may be subject to compliance and enforcement action.
EPA Announces It Will Host a Webinar on Electronic Gold Seal Letter Process for Exporting Pesticides
On June 4, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will host a webinar for pesticide registrants to provide registrants an overview on how to request Certificates of Registration, commonly known as Gold Seal letters, using the Pesticide Submission Portal. Gold Seal letters serve as proof for pesticide exporters that the product is registered with EPA and meets all necessary registration requirements.
According to EPA, since launching the digital platform in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the electronic process has resulted in quicker processing of Gold Seal letters and thorough and complete internal tracking. Due to continuing safety precautions within EPA, it is still unable to produce traditional, paper-based Gold Seal letters. Accordingly, registrants must continue to submit requests through the Pesticide Submission Portal.
Stakeholders interested in attending the presentation can click here to join the online meeting (registration is not required). The webinar will be held on June 14, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).
Information on how to request a Gold Seal certificate letter, including information on how registrants should present the letters to the U.S. Department of State when authentication is needed for business purposes, is available here.
On May 10, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the launch of an electronic Confidential Statement of Formula application (eCSF builder) to support pesticide registration applications. The new electronic tool is part of EPA’s interest in improving and modernizing the internal processes and digital workflows for pesticide registration submissions.
As part of the registration process for new pesticide products, EPA requires the submission of a Confidential Statement of Formula (CSF). The form lists all the product’s components and percent by weight, along with various additional information.
Currently, CSF applications must be submitted to EPA in hard copy. The new eCSF builder will automatically validate certain data in a CSF application prior to submission to EPA. EPA states this functionality, along with real-time validation of chemical ingredients through EPA’s Substance Registry Services, will make the pesticide registration process more efficient, saving EPA and registrants time and resources. While paper CSF forms remain available, EPA encourages submitting applications electronically, as the review of paper applications could be a longer process.
Users can access the eCSF builder on the Central Data Exchange (CDX) under Pre-Submission Tools, Form Builders, by clicking the Create eCSF button. Users can provide feedback to EPA through the CDX.
Additional information is available on our blog.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on May 6, 2021, that Bear River Supply Inc., based in Rio Oso, California, has agreed to pay a $50,578 penalty to resolve EPA’s findings that the Company produced pesticides in an unregistered establishment, distributed and sold misbranded pesticides, and failed to maintain equipment properly. According to EPA, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) and EPA discovered the violations during a series of inspections conducted at two separate facilities in Rio Oso. Inspectors found that “Vistaspray 440 Spray Oil” and “Roundup PowerMax” were being repackaged and distributed with improper labeling. In addition, EPA states, inspectors determined that Bear River Supply was producing pesticides in a facility that was not registered with EPA. While at the facilities, inspectors also found that a secondary containment unit and loading pad, both used to contain potential spills, were inadequate. The Company has since corrected the violations.
Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), pesticide manufacturers must register their facilities with EPA and annually report their pesticide production. EPA states that production records provide information on the quantities of pesticides produced and distributed. EPA notes that in addition, the number assigned to the establishment must appear on the label. FIFRA’s reporting and labeling requirements allow EPA and state agencies to track pesticide products back to the companies that produced them and “are necessary to ensure safe management and distribution” of pesticides.
On April 21, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the issuance of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 18 emergency exemptions to the states of Georgia, Minnesota, and Utah permitting the use of BiaXamTM B110-V and BiaXamTM B110-P (BiaXam), adhesive film used as supplemental residual surface coating, in Delta Air Lines planes and facilities in those three states.
According to the EPA Authorizations for Georgia, Minnesota, and Utah (EPA Authorizations), the unregistered product is a transparent adhesive film that contains the unregistered active ingredient, Benzene, 1-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-4-ethenyl-, polymer with ethenylbenzene and 2-methyl-1,3-butadiene, sulfonated (CAS RN 1637665-77-0). BiaXam is approved for use on indoor hard, nonpliable, nonporous, nonfood-contact surfaces of aircraft, airports, and associated facilities owned or operated by Delta Air Lines, to provide residual control of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The adhesive film must be applied by trained applicators to indoor surfaces in airplanes, airports, and related facilities at the Delta Air Lines sites listed on the label. Prior to application of the BiaXam product, the surface initially must be disinfected using a disinfectant from EPA’s List N – Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV.
The BiaXam film is to be replaced in airplanes at least every 200 days, and in airports and related facilities at least every 100 days. If the film detaches from the surface, degrades, is damaged, becomes irreparably soiled, or its edges or corners begin to peel, the film is to be removed, the surface cleaned and dried using a List N disinfectant, and a new layer of film applied to the surface according to the application instructions on the label. To maintain protective effect on surfaces that have been treated with BiaXam, only alcohol-based Purell wipes, Matrix Disinfectant/Cleaner #3 (quaternary ammonium based, EPA Reg. No. 1839-168-67026), and Lysol wipes (quaternary ammonium based, EPA Reg. No. 777-114) may be used on film-covered surfaces for routine cleaning and disinfection. The film surface is to be cleaned directly in place and not removed unless replacing. If cleaning products are provided to the public (e.g., airline passengers), only products compatible with BiaXamTM B110-V and BiaXamTM B110-P should be provided.
FIFRA Section 18 authorizes EPA to exempt federal or state agencies from any provision of FIFRA in the event that emergency conditions require such an exemption. EPA regulations (40 C.F.R. Part 166) specify when state or federal government agencies will be permitted to use unregistered pesticides in response to an emergency. EPA’s regulations provide that an emergency exists when:
40 C.F.R. § 166.3.
The exemptions granted can be very specific and time-limited; EPA has developed a database so companies can search (by chemical, site, pest, applicant, or date range) to determine if an emergency exemption has been issued and its expiration date.
EPA’s approval will allow the BiaXam product to be used at facilities owned or controlled by Delta Air Lines, Inc., at specific sites in Georgia, Minnesota, and Utah, on indoor hard, nonpliable, nonporous, and nonfood-contact surfaces in airplanes, airports, and other air-travel related facilities owned or controlled by Delta Air Lines, Inc. including, but not limited to:
The approved Section 18 emergency requests are effective for one year. Any unexpected adverse effects related to the use of this product must be reported immediately to EPA as required under the terms of the FIFRA Section 18 emergency exemption approval.