SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with Hydrofarm, Inc. for selling two unregistered pesticides in violation of federal pesticide law. As part of the settlement, the Petaluma, Calif.-based Hydrofarm, Inc., one of the nation’s largest distributors of agricultural and hydroponic supplies, has agreed to pay $316,000 in fines and has stopped selling both products.
“This action is part of EPA’s effort to protect agricultural employees and consumers from pesticide products that are not approved by the federal government,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “It is critical that companies selling pesticides provide users with the information they need to safeguard their health and the environment.”
Hydrofarm sold sulfur to control mildew through vaporization in greenhouses without any instructions or precautionary language to minimize risks to individuals from exposure to the product. EPA has not yet evaluated the human health risks associated with the use of vaporized sulfur in greenhouses.
The company also sold “Nutralife Plant Products H2O2”— a 29 percent hydrogen peroxide product used to sanitize and disinfect hydroponic equipment and growing areas—without adequate directions for use and safety precautions. Registered products with similar hydrogen peroxide concentrations require users to wear protective clothing. Hydrogen peroxide at this concentration can cause irreversible eye damage and skin burns, and may be fatal if inhaled and harmful if swallowed or absorbed through the skin.
The inspection at Hydrofarm was conducted by EPA staff. Hydrofarm was targeted based on a tip resulting from a California Department of Pesticide Regulation inspection at a separate hydroponic store.
Before selling or distributing any pesticide in the United States, companies must register the pesticide with the EPA. The domestic sale or distribution of pesticides that have not been registered with the EPA, such as the two unregistered pesticides sold by Hydrofarm, is a violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, which ensures the safe and appropriate distribution, handling, and application of pesticides.
For more information on EPA’s pesticide registration process, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/regulating/registering.