Discount store sold illegal chemicals as cleaning products

A chain of discount shops sold hazardous chemicals in household cleaners to unsuspecting customers.

The chain, 99¢ Only Stores, has been ordered to pay $409,490 for the sale of 'illegal, unregistered and misbranded pesticides' contained in household products.

The case involved three cleaning and pest control products and caused 166 violations, 164 of which related to a household cleaner called 'Bref Limpieza y Disinfección Total con Densicloro'

Translated as 'Bref Complete Cleaning and Disinfection with Densicloro', the product was not registered with America's environmental watchdog the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA said it was imported from Mexico and made statements in Spanish that it disinfects or sanitises surfaces.

The EPA believes 99¢ Only Stores illegally sold at least 658 bottles of Bref at stores in California, Arizona and Nevada.

The crimes were discovered during inspections by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Nevada Department of Agriculture from 2004 to 2008.

The other two products involved were 'Farmer's Secret Berry & Produce Cleaner', an unregistered pesticide, and 'PiC BORIC ACID Roach Killer III', which was misbranded because EPA-approved labels were upside-down or inside out, making them hard to read.

The fine is the largest contested penalty ever ordered by an EPA administrative law judge against a product retailer under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

"Consumers who bring cleaning products into their homes expect them to be safe and effective, with clear labeling that gives them the facts," said Kathy Taylor, associate director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division in the EPA's regional office.

"This penalty should send a deterrent message to retailers that they must comply with the law regulating pesticides."

Luke Walsh


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