Daily News Archive
From January 3, 2002

EPA Orders Two Companies to Stop Selling Unregistered Anthrax Decontamination Pesticides to the Public

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered two companies immediately to stop selling unregistered pesticides claiming to protect the public from anthrax and requested the companies voluntarily to recall these illegal products from the marketplace.

The EPA orders were issued to Homeland Security Plus of Gilbert, AZ, for the illegal sale of Biohazard Decontamination Solution, and to Testing Kits Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, FL, for the illegal sale of EnviroFoam Easy DECON, also known as "EnviroFoam." Both unregistered products were marketed on the Internet. The companies have since removed the promotion for these products from their websites. EPA's orders for both companies are effective immediately upon receipt. The Agency will be monitoring compliance with its orders and the companies' voluntary recall.

Although selling or distributing unregistered pesticides is generally prohibited under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA has authorized the limited use of an anthrax decontamination foam (a formulation of quaternary ammonium and hydrogen peroxide) for use in emergency cleanup operations of the U.S. Congress, federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service under a FIFRA exemption. This emergency use was authorized for limited spot decontamination only by federal, state or local emergency response personnel and not by the general public. Additional data review required by registration will help determine whether such products can be used more widely. The anthrax decontamination foam for which the EPA exemption was granted was not manufactured by Testing Kits Inc.

"Selling unregistered products not approved for public use and preying upon consumers' heightened concern for their families' health are unconscionable," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.

While public concern about anthrax is understandable, EPA has the responsibility to protect consumers right to know about decontamination products and to know that they have been tested and proven effective before being sold to the public.

Homeland Security Plus and Testing Kits Inc. sales efforts were discovered in a coordinated internet surveillance effort by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with assistance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more than 30 state attorneys general and the California Department of Health Services.

"Our 'surf' results and cases such as these unfortunately demonstrate the need for consumers to be very skeptical of products that claim to protect the public against bioterrorism," said FTC's Director of Consumer Protection J. Howard Beales. "There will continue to be close monitoring and vigorous and prompt action where necessary."