Dangers of Buying Pesticides Online
Some pesticide products for sale on the internet are:
- Banned and illegal to use.
- Falsely advertised as "non-toxic" or "safe for families."
- Not registered with the EPA and Washington State Department of Agriculture.
- Not properly labeled with instructions for safe use.
- Restricted use pesticides that can only be applied by licensed applicators (such as professional pest control company).
Misusing banned, unregistered, or restricted use pesticides can lead to pesticide exposure illness, harm to other plants and animals, and environmental damage. Improper use of pesticides may result in criminal charges and fines.
A woman ordered ant killer from a company online that came up first in her online search results. The ant killer was advertised as "safe for families" and as having "no dangerous toxins." When the pesticide came in the mail, she was surprised that the only words she could read on the package were "Shang Jia Ants Clean." The rest of the text was in Chinese.
She applied the granular ant bait and two other pesticides around her home. She began feeling ill with symptoms of dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurry vision, salivation, abdomen pain, and weakness. She went to the emergency room for treatment.
Follow-up investigation found the ant killer contained the toxic pesticide mirex, which has been banned in the U.S. since 1978. Mirex is also very persistent in the environment.
The EPA obtained a list of people who may have purchased the illegal pesticide online and mailed a dangerous pesticide warning letter to about 3,000 customers. The U.S. reseller stopped sales of the pesticide and the website no longer offers the ant bait.
Types of Pesticides For Sale
Examples of pesticides you may find online include:
- Flea and tick sprays, powders, collars, and wrist bands.
- Ant baits, sprays, and dusts.
- Cockroach sprays and baits.
- Rat, mouse, and other rodent poisons.
- Insect control chalk (Chinese chalk).
- Bug repellents.
- Lawn and garden products that kill weeds, insects, or plant diseases.
- Mold or mildew control products.
- Kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfectants and sanitizers.
- Some swimming pool chemicals.
Advice for Consumers
- Use caution when buying pesticides on the internet. A professional looking website doesn't ensure the seller knows the laws and regulations of selling pesticides online.
- Make sure the product has an EPA registration number, provides the active ingredient, and is registered in Washington. Registered labels can be searched by EPA number, product name, or ingredient using WSU's PICOL database.
- Be certain the product has instructions that you can understand and follow.
- Don't buy restricted use pesticides if you are not licensed to apply them.
- Understand the pest you are attempting to control. By doing a little research, you may find that other control options will work better. Integrated pest management (IPM) uses a variety of solutions for controlling pests. As an example, rodent poisons can be avoided when controlling mice in a home if entry points are sealed up, food sources are eliminated, and snap traps are used. Learn more about IPM.
Generally, the seller is responsible for making sure pesticides sold online are labeled according to federal standards and are registered by both the EPA and the Washington State Department of Agriculture. There are also laws on the shipment, proper transportation, and delivery of pesticides. Unfortunately, sellers don't always know or follow the requirements of selling pesticides.
Laws, rules, and business protection resources:
- Washington State Department of Agriculture Pesticide Laws and Rules
- Fact Sheet on Pesticide Sales in E-Commerce, EPA
- Protect Your Business: Avoid Selling Illegal Pesticides, EPA
Content Source: Pesticide Program