According to the settlement filed last week by EPA’s New England office, EPA alleged that Sciessent LLC, formerly known as Agion Technologies Inc., violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, known as FIFRA, between 2006 and 2009 by making illegal claims about these products and by importing them without filing the required reports with EPA. The company supplies silver-ion antimicrobial ingredients to numerous customers who then incorporate the substances into various consumer, commercial, and industrial products to protect the products against deterioration. Under the settlement, Sciessent has agreed to pay a $180,000 penalty over two years based partly on the company’s financial ability to pay.
The other party involved in the settlement is Sinanen Zeomic Co., Ltd., a Japanese company that produces and supplies pesticides to Sciessent. The violations EPA alleged against Sinanen stem from the company’s failure to properly register its Nagoya facility under federal law as a pesticide-producing establishment. To resolve those claims, Sinanen has agreed to pay a $40,000 penalty.
Agion was a Delaware corporation that dissolved early in 2011. Sciessent, also a Delaware corporation, is believed to be the corporate successor to Agion and is located at Agion’s former headquarters in Wakefield. Sinanen supplies Sciessent with a number of FIFRA-registered pesticides, specifically the silver-ion based substances used as antimicrobial agents that are the subject of this EPA enforcement case.
In response to EPA’s compliance concerns and, after a February 2009 EPA inspection, the Sinanen facility was registered as a pesticide-producing establishment. Also, Sciessent has made changes to its web-based product claims and is continuing with efforts to ensure that the company’s operations are in full compliance with FIFRA.
The requirements underlying the violations are intended to protect public health and the environment from unreasonable risks from pesticides. Products that kill or repel bacteria or other microbes are considered pesticides, and must be registered with the EPA before their sale or distribution. The agency will not register a pesticide until it has been shown that the substance will not pose an unreasonable risk when used according to the directions. Consumers should be careful to follow directions for proper use and look for the EPA registration number printed on product labels.
In the past few years, silver-ion antimicrobials have been the subject of several EPA enforcement cases relating, specifically, to entities making public health-based claims in violation of federal law about their products that have silver-ion ingredients. Some of these cases include: Samsung Electronics America Inc. in 2009; VF Outdoor Inc. and Califone International Inc. in 2010; and Logitech Inc. in 2011.
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