EPA Responding to Problems with Pesticide Internet Sales

Want to buy some DDT? How about a World War II-era pesticide container? These are some of the things state and federal pesticide regulators have been spotting for sale over the Internet.

Acknowledging that the issue is becoming much more pressing, EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs has launched a work-group effort to address the issues raised by the sale of pesticides over the Internet.

The 15-member panel is comprised of staff from OPP, the Office of General Counsel (OGC) and the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. It is intended first to gauge the magnitude of problematic offers-for sale on Web sites. The panel will then formulate potential responses.

Many of the sellers offering pesticides either illegally or improperly on the Internet do not know that they are violating Federal insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act rules, the agency believes. As a result, the mitigation efforts of the work group will target outreach ideas much more than enforcement options.

"We"ve seen DDT offered for sale on eBay," OPP's Karen Angulo, who is chairing the work group, said. "Just recently, we saw a World War II-era pesticide on eBay. We've learned that vintage pesticide containers are a collectable item, and although they're mostly empty containers, the empty ones still have pesticide residues in them."

Angula, a team leader in the Biological and Economic Analysis Division of OPP, hastened to point out that:"we called eBay about the World War II-era pesticide and they pulled it off the auction block within 30 minutes." Acknowledging that a number of state lead agencies first alerted EPA to the auction issues, she said, "we've been working with eBay over the course of a year, and now the work group is working on developing exclusionary criteria for the auction sites.

"They already ban offers to sell firearms and alcohol," Angula said, "and we're trying to develop helpful guidance for them." The work group also is trying to "figure out how we should tract down the people or companies offering pesticides on other ISP's (Internet Service Providers) and shopping portals. Eventually, we'll need to talk to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI." Alluding to the difficult problem of unregistered, offshore sources of pesticide sales, she said that "we'll need to talk to Customs, too," (From: P TCN, Vol. 29, No.23, via Kansas Pesticide Newsletter )

This article originally appeared in the June 8, 2001 issue, p. 68.


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