On Oct. 5, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued orders requiring Lucky An Dong, Inc. and Viet Wah Supermarket, two stores in the Little Saigon Neighborhood of Seattle to stop selling two illegal, unregistered pesticide products, according to a press release.
The two pesticide products named in the stop sale orders are “Miraculous Insecticide Chalk” and “Talent naphthalene BALL” (moth balls) which are imported from China and Taiwan. EPA inspected the two stores on Aug. 29. At this time, the stores removed the illegal pesticide products from their store shelves upon EPA request.
EPA is especially concerned about children’s potential exposure to “Miraculous Insecticide Chalk.” Children can easily mistake this product for common blackboard chalk. The active ingredient in “Miraculous Insecticide Chalk” is a chemical called deltamethrin, which is in the pyrethroid group of insecticides. The packaging contains no list of ingredients or consumer warnings. In fact, the package claims the product is “harmless to human beings and animals” and “safe to use.” Inadvertent overexposure (such as a child ingesting or inhaling a large amount of deltamethrin) can produce serious health effects, including vomiting, stomach pains, convulsions, tremors, coma, and death due to respiratory failure. Serious allergic reactions are also possible.
“EPA registers pesticide products to make sure they are safe through testing and good label information,” said Scott Downey, EPA’s Pesticide and Toxics Manager in Seattle. “It is easy to imagine children, and even adults, not understanding the danger of ‘Miraculous Insecticide Chalk’ and becoming exposed.”
Under FIFRA, EPA reviews and registers all pesticide products sold and distributed in the United States to ensure that, when used according to approved label instructions, they do not pose an unreasonable risk to people’s health or the environment.
EPA’s Region 10 Pesticides & Toxics Unit in Seattle is working closely with their regional counterparts and U.S. Customs to keep these dangerous, illegal products from store shelves across the country.
EPA believes that the best long-term solution to these type of incidents is to provide culturally and language-appropriate education. EPA has asked the International District Housing Alliance (IDHA), which provides community services to the International District, to assist business owners to understand what is legal and safe on their shelves. “We see this as an opportunity to partner with International District businesses to give them access to the information that they need,” says Joyce Pisananont, WILD Program Director for IDHA. IDHA has been working with youth, elders, businesses and others under a grant from EPA to educate the community about reducing exposures from toxic chemicals in the International District.
If you have these or other unregistered pesticide products, please contact EPA’s Pesticide and Toxics Unit at (206) 553-0505. For disposal options, contact Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) at (360) 902-2048.