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Johnston, RI Company to Pay $10,000 Penalty to Settle Pesticide Violations; Settlement Follows Similar Agreement with Central Falls, RI Company

Release Date: 07/07/04
Contact Information: Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

For Immediate Release: July 7, 2004; Release # 04-07-04

BOSTON – Two Rhode Island companies that make and sell swimming pool disinfectants have agreed to pay a total of $23,000 in fines to settle charges by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that they manufactured and distributed pesticides with labels that misrepresented the contents.

The companies – Johnston Pool Supply of Johnston, RI and AMCO Inc. of Central Falls, RI – agreed to pay $10,000 and $13,000 penalties, respectively, for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

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, 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.

In a settlement negotiation earlier this year, AMCO agreed to put into place the following practices, in addition to what is required by law, to ensure that the company’s products are in compliance with FIFRA:

    • a product tracking system;
    • request for statements of product authenticity from suppliers
    • a testing protocol for the content of products
    • a written plan to ensure compliance with the law; and
    • a process flow diagram for its pesticide production
In addition to paying the $10,000 penalty, Johnston Pool Supply will no longer be manufacturing a swimming pool disinfectant.

Each company’s settlement agreement includes a certification that the companies are now in compliance with FIFRA.

"These agreements help to ensure that these companies will operate from now on in ways that do not threaten public health," 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."

The two Rhode Island cases are among a number of other enforcement actions taken by EPA in the last several years to enforce laws regulating sodium hypochlorite products and other pool disinfectants. 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 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.

Now that it is summer, EPA urges New Englanders to pay special attention to the storage and use of swimming pool chemicals. Careless storage, wetting, mixing or the contamination of these chemicals can cause fires, explosions, burns, and possibly the release of toxic vapors. For more information about safe use of swimming pool chemicals, visit the agency's web site at

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

Related Information:
Pesticide Program
Pesticides Enforcement
Chemical Accidents