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EPA Files Complaints Against Two RI Firms Charged with Violating Pesticide Laws

Release Date: 10/21/2003
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014 Greg Dain, EPA FIFRA Enforcement Program Coordinator (617) 918-1884

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England office announced today that it intends to seek monetary penalties against two Rhode Island companies that make swimming pool disinfectants, for distributing pesticides with labels that misrepresented the contents.

EPA's New England Office will be seeking the assessment of an administrative penalty against Johnston Pool Supply of Johnston and AMCO, Inc.of Central Falls for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

EPA has proposed a penalty of $66,000 against AMCO for FIFRA violations. The exact amount of Johnston Pool Supply's penalty assessment can be as high as $5,500 for each violation for each day of violation. EPA's complaint against Johnston alleges that, among other violations, Johnston distributed or sold an "unregistered, misbranded and adulterated pesticide" on numerous occasions between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2002. EPA will determine the penalty amount after a full evaluation of the number and seriousness of the violations and consideration of any mitigating factors which Johnston may present.

Both companies' violations involved the sale or distribution of a swimming pool disinfection product containing sodium hypochlorite, the product's active ingredient. According to the complaints, issued recently, both companies sold these products with a concentration of sodium hypochlorite that was significantly below the concentration indicated on the products' labels as approved by EPA to protect public health. Both companies purchased sodium hypochlorite solution in bulk from another source and then repackaged the solution into smaller containers. There is no evidence suggesting that the solution purchased from the original sources contained a deficient concentration of sodium hypochlorite.

"FIFRA aims to protect human health and the environment. These violations by Johnston Pool Supply and AMCO threaten the public's health and the integrity of federal regulations," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "Individuals who swim in pools without the proper level of protection are exposed to viruses and bacteria, such as e-coli, which can lead to skin irritation and possible gastrointestinal problems. EPA's response to these serious violations will help protect the public health."

The complaints against AMCO and Johnston are part of a larger effort by EPA this year to enforce laws regulating sodium hypochlorite products. The sale of adulterated and mislabeled sodium hypochlorite solution threatens the public health. Sodium hypochlorite at lower concentrations than the EPA-approved concentration does not assure the same level of protection for consumers trying to keep their swimming pools clean.

These products are regulated as pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act – or FIFRA – because they claim to prevent or destroy pests, such as algae, viruses and bacteria. Under FIFRA, regulated pesticides must be registered with EPA before they are sold or distributed, and the claims made on the products' labels about the product must be accurate.

For more information on pesticides and the FIFRA program, go to EPA's Region I Web site: