(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2008)¬†The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 this week issued a “stop sale, use or removal” order against Scotts Miracle Gro Co. and three affiliates, all of Marysville, Ohio, for illegal, unregistered and misbranded weed and fertilizer products with a cancer causing and endocrine disrupting pesticide ingredient. EPA will also issue a stop sale order to Scotts Lawn Care Service.Scotts has agreed to recall two products from all retail locations across the United States and to set up a process for consumers to safely return any unregistered products they may have purchased. EPA ordered the companies, collectively an international producer and distributor of lawn care products, to immediately stop selling and distributing the products which can be identified by the invalid “EPA registration number” listed on the package. Invalid registration number 62355-4 is marketed under names including “Garden Weed Preventer + Plant Food” and “Miracle Gro Shake ‘n’ Feed All Purpose Plant Food Plus Weed Preventer.” The active ingredient of this product is trifluralin, an herbicide that is a possible carcinogen and probable endocrine disruptor, among its health effects. Invalid registration number 538-304 is used primarily by Scotts Lawn Service, a lawn care company. It is marketed under names including “Scotts Lawn Service Fertilizer with .28% Halts,” “Scotts Lawn Service Fertilizer 0-0-7 Plus .28% Halts Pro,” “Scotts Lawn Service Fertilizer 14-2-5 Plus .28% Halts Pro” and “Scotts Lawn Service Fertilizer 22-0-8 Plus .28% Halts Pro.”
An EPA consumer hotline to answer questions about the action has been established at 888-838-1304 (9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Central Daylight Time). Questions may also be answered by the National Pesticide Information Center at 800-858-7378 (6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, including weekends). A fact sheet and regularly updated information are posted online by EPA.
At this time EPA considers the risks, if any, posed by these unregistered products to be unknown. EPA and its state partner Ohio Department of Agriculture are conducting a laboratory analysis of these products. EPA advises consumers not to use these products and to store them in a safe, cool and dry place such as a garage or utility shed, and not to dispose of them down the drain, in the garbage or at a community disposal site.
Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, all pesticides must be submitted to EPA for review, evaluation and registration to ensure that they do not pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. The review process is not without its own controversies (such as approving dangerous uses or misleading labels), but a company bypassing the process eliminates the possibility for public comment on the potential risks of its product.
“A manufacturer such as Scotts cannot ignore the important legal requirement of registering its pesticides,” said Region 5 Administrator Mary A. Gade. “This is a serious violation of EPA’s system for protecting people and the environment from the potential harmful effects of pesticides. EPA will fully investigate this violation and take appropriate actions. We are committed to keeping the public informed about any health consequences and providing information to assure the safe recall of these products as soon as possible.”
Registered or not, Beyond Pesticides emphasizes the dangers of toxic lawn chemicals in fertilizers and herbicides. You can find out more, like the health and environmental effects of commonly used lawn chemicals or tips on managing an organic lawn, on our Lawns and Landscapes program page.